Monday, June 26, 2017

ANNOUNCING: The Grimmys 2017


The Society of Professional Obituary Writers is currently accepting entries and nominations for outstanding obituary writing published in 2016-2017.

The contest offers awards, affectionately known as The Grimmys, in the following categories:

* Best short form obit (under 800 words)

* Best long form obit (over 800 words)

* Best obit of an ordinary Joe/Jane

* Obituary writer of the year

* Lifetime achievement in obituary writing


Reporters and editors from all over the world may submit entries to the contest, which will be blind-judged by a panel of society members. Trophies will be awarded to the winners at ObitCon 2017, the society's biennial conference.

ObitCon will be held Oct. 13-15 at the Legacy.com offices in Evanston, Ill. The event will feature discussions and professional development workshops for writers on the death beat.

Contest rules are posted on the society's website.

Deadline to enter is August 31, 2017.

Thursday, June 01, 2017

They Died (Or Did They?)



One of the things that drive obituary writers mad is euphemisms for death. Following AP style, journalists should use the words "death," "dead" or "died" in their stories. The deceased does not "go with God," "follow Jesus home," "cross the Rainbow Bridge" or "pass away."

Some euphemisms still make it into print, especially in paid death notices, and now there's an Instagram account devoted to them. Check out They Didn't Die here.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

ObitCon 2017 Announced


The fifth conference of The Society of Professional Obituary Writers (SPOW) will be held Oct. 13-15, 2017 in Evanston, Ill. If you'd like to join your fellow writers on the death beat for a three-day weekend of professional development and comraderie, be sure to submit your vacation requests now.

Details about panels, readings, special guests, tickets and the Grimmies will be posted on our website in the coming weeks.

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