An independent journal about the Gannett Co. and the news industry's digital transition
The Times is THE best at obituaries. What a great piece. Abby is one of those newspaper guilty pleasures along with horoscopes. Obits are a lost art at many papers that care more about the profits from paid obits (death notices). At my paper no matter how tight the space, we ruled that at least one obit had to get in daily. It shows connected community. The bean counters just don't understand how important that is to readers.
I believe that's why my former Gannett rag still keeps ONE over 60-something around - to write one occasionally.
I love obits, too. They're my daily dose of people profiles.Early in my career, I worked at a small newspaper where we all took turns writing obituaries. Our reporting was done almost exclusively by telephone, so it was a good lesson in how to get people to talk under sometimes trying circumstances. Most people are happy to get a call from a reporter asking about a family member or friend who just died; it shows the larger world cares about someone they love, that they are important.But that doesn't mean they want to answer all questions. One night, I called the survivors of a man who had died. Scanning through the list of survivors supplied by the funeral home, I had noticed there were names of children, but no mention of his wife.I asked one of the kids about her. Their response: "We don't want her name in his obituary."How come? "She shot him."I then had to explain that what started out as an obituary had now turned into a suspected-murder story . . .
Don't leave us hanging, Jim. WAS it a murder?
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I am a bad reporter, because I don't remember the outcome. But knowing that particular town in Arkansas, I suspect it was, indeed, foul play.
We ran obit and put in that the man died in a fire -- in a whorehouse. Yikes, the family came up to the newsroom to kick my ass. I was young and did not know yet the word descretion.
Has anyone read "The Dead Beat: Lost Souls, Lucky Stiffs and the Perverse Pleasures of Obituaries" by Marilyn Johnson? Very enjoyable....
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