Saturday, August 05, 2006, Moving Tributes

Editor & Publisher Online wanted to know what obituary writers think of and its multimedia Moving Tributes.

Sarah Weber, an E&P Onliner, sought answers from:

Dick Peery, my partner-in-grim, my mentor and the senior obit writer at The Plain Dealer in Cleveland, Ohio;

Carolyn Gilbert, founder of the International Association of Obituarists, its annual Great Obituary Writers Conferences and;

and Steve Miller, obits editor at The New York Sun and co-author of "Life on the Death Beat: A Handbook for Obituary Writers."

In Weber's online article, "Multimedia Online Memorials Draw Mixed Reviews From Obit Editors," Dick (whose byline is Richard M. Peery) says he doesn’t feel threatened by the Moving Tributes section and points out that these family-composed items should not be confused with obituaries written by journalists.

“If people have a real story to tell about their loved one, I don’t see them passing us up to get on As long as papers don’t pick these things up and run these as stories, I’m okay with it."

From her perspective as probably the most knowledgeable readers of obituaries and dedicated friend of obituary writers from publications around the world, Carolyn sees value in and its Moving Tributes, but says that value may be limited to folks, who are Web savvy and, the article implies, have the means to pay for the service.

“It serves a segment of the community for sure,” Gilbert said, “but maybe the more sophisticated clientele.”

Steve Miller (whose byline is Stephen Miller) told Weber what he really thinks.

“From my point of view, they’re a pain in the butt,” said Miller.

His chief complaint is that takes away the ability to browse through paid obits, making it difficult to find interesting obit subjects.

"I don’t like the whole interface; if you don’t know the person’s name that you’re looking for, you have to click through the whole page. I want to see a whole string of stuff to scan real quickly to find the important information, and they don’t make that possible.”

I have found helpful when I'm trying to verify the deaths of potential obit subjects who have died outside of the Cleveland area.

As for Moving Tributes, I haven't used it for this yet, but I see that these could be helpful in getting an idea of the deceased's life, occupation, interests, etc.

What do you think?


Joanne West Cornish said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Joanne West Cornish said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Joanne West Cornish said...

OK... having removed both the previous posts, I am finally getting used to this blog and the posting before editing out typos.
I hadn't seen the "moving tributes" on before, but now, having viewed a few, I find them a long overdue addition to this site. These things have been bouncing around on other sites for years. And though we know it's just another way of cashing in on the dead, I can't question the comfort it must bring to the families of these people. Check out a few yourself, like Helen Adams, whose husband Jack's grief is palpable as he stiffly reads his tribute to her. It is the theatre of grief at its best. A worthy memorial to his wife. Even the most jaded of professionals must admit this kind of forum fills a need. What's next? Full length feature films?

Anonymous said...

I am an Irish-American, and I found a wonderful priest called Fr Tim who is kinda hip and cool for a Catholic priest. Anyway, he has an open blog where you can leave your comments and ask him to pray for your certain needs. It's much better that, but I guess it's primarily Irish-American...
The link is a mammoth one but I just think it's kinda sweet, his blog is called 'Pray for us'