Sunday, March 12, 2017

XXX of obit writers?

The Quill Cafe has put together a rather extensive list of collective nouns for writers. Examples include:

* An ambiance of writers
* A creation of writers
* A dispatch of writers
* An idea of writers
* A sentence of writers
* A subplot of writers

What should be the collective noun for obituary writers?

Sunday, March 05, 2017

Where are the women?

Reader Joan Tarbox of Rochester, N.Y., recently complained that the obituary pages in The New York Times were dominated by men.

“I’d love to track the obits for a month so I could give you some hard statistics,” she wrote.

The Times' public editor, Liz Spayd, decided to do the work for her and learned that 75 percent of the obits published in 2016 memorialized the life of a man.

It's likely the statistics are similar at other news organizations. Any ideas for how we, the obituary writers, can address this disparity?

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

How does novelist Megan Abbott spend her Sunday mornings?

"I am an insomniac. I wake up at 6 or 6:30 and get out of bed immediately. The coffee starts right away. Then I get to the computer as quickly as possible. I like to start writing when I’m still half-asleep, in a state between dreaming and waking. Sunday is a big writing day for me, a cocoon day, so I don’t check emails or go into Manhattan. Before I write, I like to read obits in The Times because they’re well written and I like the little details. It gets the energy going in the morning. I really like the obits of old Hollywood actors and actresses." --Megan Abbott

Saturday, August 06, 2016

Inquiring Minds Want To Know

DEATH NOTICE: Joseph A. “Monkey Butt” Zajaczkowski, 60, of Medina, NY, entered into rest on Saturday, July 30, 2016 at his home.


Yet one more example of why we need journalists to write obits. How can someone publish this kind of death notice and not explain the story behind the nickname?

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Share your thoughts on pay


Saturday, May 14, 2016

Meet The Great And Captivating Kay Powell

In a lovely profile published in the latest issue of Mental Floss, writer Margaret Eby declared SPOW's very own Kay Powell as "America's Greatest Obituary Writer."

It's hard to disagree with that.

Eby described the process Powell used to write more than 2,000 obits for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and to "paint a picture of a complex city and an evolving South, and go well beyond the tropes of the form."

Powell also shared this wonderful bit of advice for those working on the death beat:

"Our job was to answer questions, not raise questions. We always gave the cause of death. We wrote about suicides, even though many papers won’t. The question you’re afraid to ask is the question you must ask.”

Click here for the full story.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Jim Sheeler: Professor, Pulitzer Prize Winner, Premier Obit Writer

We cannot overstate what Jim Sheeler has contributed to the art of the obituary. His outstanding work has led him to become an author, professor, Pulitzer Prize winning reporter, and so much more. Now he's being honored by Case Western Reserve University where he teaches students to write stories outside their comfort zones. All of Jim's accomplishments and contributions are rooted in his excellent obituaries written early in his career. Check out what Case Western has to say about Jim being awarded the Carl F. Wittke Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching at its May 15 commencement ceremony.