Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Workshop for Professional Obituary Writers in Portland, Oregon

Amy Starke and Joan Harvey of The Oregonian are planning a training workshop to help professional obit writers enhance their skills. The workshop will be held May 8-11, 2008, in Portland, Oregon.

The Oregonian has agreed to make its conference rooms available for workshop sessions.

"The Oregonian as you may know is the envy of many other newspapers for the
amount of space it devotes to obituaries." the two Oregonian obit writers boast.

And it's true. The paper runs little obits on just about everyone in the Portland circulation area.

Naturally, the deaths of newsmakers get published. But probably the most wonderful obits are the Life Stories, longer feature obits about everyday people, that are fascinating - even to readers who never knew the deceased.

With the workshops, Amy and Joan hope to address such topics as interviewing skills, deep historical/courts and cops research, multimedia skills, focusing and writing tight, approaches to candor in obituaries.

The workshop will be open only to professional obit writers.

Of course, you'll want to know the background of the brains behind the Portland workshop.

Amy Martinez Starke, a newspaper journalist for the past 30 years, has spent the last 16 years at The Oregonian. The Life Story writer (for nearly five years) has written more than 600 story-length obituaries, most of them feature obituaries about ordinary people. Amy has experience in copy editing, layout and wire editing in addition to reporting. She previously worked at The Orange County Register and for small papers in Washington, D.C., and Texas.

Joan Harvey has been writing obits for The Oregonian for the past 10 years. Before taking 30 years off to raise five children, she was a general-assignment reporter and wrote social news for The Oregonian. During her hiatus, she was a freelance food and travel writer for The Oregonian and writer and editor for Portland-area African-American and Jewish newspapers.

Workshop details will be posted on this blog as they become available. Your comments are welcome.

(FYI: This event is not intended to compete with the annual Great Obituary Writers International Conference, which is open to anyone who loves obits. (The 10th Great is scheduled for Toronto, Ontario, June 12-14, 2008.)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great idea alas I can not attend it. I find professional obit writing fascinating. Good luck!
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