Thursday, October 06, 2005

Romenesko column

I found this columnist's tirade disturbing. My newspaper sees this kind of attitude and sense of entitlement all the time.
When his father had died, and he was in grief, he found the paper's service cold and sterile.
I have news for him: This is a business. Newspapers are in business to make a profit.
If we can make a connection to our readers through running obituaries -- in whatever form, online or print -- great!
But by what reasoning does he think newspapers should offer up free any of our rapidly shrinking and valuable newshole as a public service? How is there any possible way that the 25,000 people who die each year in our city can be commemorated in anything more than a short FREE obit, if that?
What I think his tirade represents more than anything else is how people who work at newspapers sneer at obituaries until a friend or relative dies, and then suddenly an obituary becomes Very Important. Maybe I'm wrong about this writer, but I would bet anything he was never a big supporter of obituaries at any of the newspapers he's worked for.
And that's the end of my tirade.

1 comment:

Claire Martin said...

Well, yeah, Amy. Except he makes an excellent point about the indifference he met at the Rocky Mountain News. I think it's poor journalism to assume that there's no story till proven otherwise (except when a PR firm is involved).
We can't provide news obituaries for everyone, even with an excellent devoted section like the Oregonian's. But it is inexcusable to treat any caller/reader as the equivalent of a petitioner begging for a papal audience. I've heard this complaint before about the way Rocky staffers deal with people seeking news obituaries. I think it's because of the way the paper handles obits -- hot potato, from one staffer to another. Most reporters, judging from the indifferent writing, hate it when they have to write an obit. A few do a good job.
His experience certainly makes the case for why a dedicated position for a staff obit writer makes sense.