Monday, October 16, 2017

Congratulations to the winners of the 2017 Grimmys

The Society of Professional Obituary Writers honored the best writers in the field at the Grimmys Award ceremony, which was held last weekend during ObitCon 2017. Reporters and editors from all over the world submitted entries to the Grimmys Contest. And the 2017 winners are:

Best short form obit - Neil Steinberg of the Chicago Sun-Times for his obituary of Cookie the cockatoo

Best long form obit - Tom Hawthorn of The Globe and Mail (Toronto, Canada), for his obituary of Al Howie, an eccentric ultramarathoner who ran across Canada

Best obit of an ordinary Joe/Jane - Maureen O'Donnell of the Chicago Sun-Times, for her obituary of Phyllis Larson, the Turkey Talk-Line expert who rescued holiday meals

Obituary writer of the year - Linnea Crowther of Legacy.com

The Alana Baranick Award For Lifetime Achievement In Obituary Writing - Andrew Meacham, Tampa Bay Times

Each winner received a trophy shaped like a tombstone that included the society's unique Memento Mori logo, which was designed by Mairead Rosati.

ObitCon 2017 was a great success!


The fifth conference of The Society of Professional Obituary Writers was held Oct. 13-15, 2017 at the Legacy.com offices in Evanston, Ill. If you were unable to attend, here's what you missed:

On Friday, ObitCon participants gathered for a meet and greet at Bookends and Beginnings in Evanston, Ill. Afterwards, society members enjoyed a delicious meal at Pete Miller's Seafood & Prime Steak.

On Saturday, attendees gathered at the Legacy.com offices in Evanston, Ill., and engaged in "grave discussions" about obits and obituary writing. Several guest speakers gave short talks, including Stephen Segal of Legacy.com, Adam Bernstein of The Washington Post, Susan Soper of ObitKit and Owen Youngman of Northwestern University. SPOW members also enjoyed a screening of the documentary, "Obit," followed by a discussion of the film with director Vanessa Gould.

On Sunday, the Grimmys were awarded 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 and lifetime achievement in obituary writing.

If you missed any of these events, just hop over to Twitter and read the tweets posted under the hashtag #obitcon.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Registration for ObitCon 2017 opens

The fifth conference of The Society of Professional Obituary Writers will be held Oct. 13-15, 2017 at the Legacy.com offices in Evanston, Ill. Our current schedule of events is as follows:

On Friday, ObitCon participants will meet for dinner and drinks at an area restaurant.

On Saturday, participants will engage in discussions about obits and obituary writing, and attend a screening of the documentary, "Obit." A continental breakfast and a full lunch will be served. Special guests will be announced soon.


On Sunday, Grimmys will be awarded 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 and lifetime achievement in obituary writing.

If you'd like to join your fellow writers on the death beat for a three-day weekend of professional development and camaraderie, be sure to submit your vacation requests now. Tickets for the conference cost $25 per person.

To register, click here.

For those unable to attend, all events will be tweeted using the hashtag #obitcon.

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?