Sunday, July 26, 2015

What life is like for the person who writes death notices

In the past 15 years, many newspapers have laid off their obituary writers, transferred these experienced journalists to other beats or pushed them out of the business with early retirement demands and buyouts. Why pay a reporter to write a fair and balanced story about someone's life when the family will pay money -- often a lot of money -- for a death notice?

But did you know that the person in the classified department who's paid to type those profitable ads also faces backlash about the publication's cash flow problems? As Adam Matcho noted in this essay for XOJane:

[My boss] asked if deaths were down this year in Westmoreland County, because revenue is down, and is that maybe something I would want to look into? He wanted me to email him back.

My boss and I, we’ve gone rounds on this before. He understands I am more concerned about not transposing two letters in one of those crazy last names from Polish Hill than how much money the paper makes. He understands people have to die for this department to make money. He understands I do not consider myself a salesperson. I consider myself an aide capable of typing 70 words per minute, a guide for people who are raw; people who react emotionally and hold fiercely to what they have left of the dead.

Click here to read the rest of Matcho's story.

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