Tuesday, October 30, 2018
Jascha Hoffman, a Brooklyn-based journalist and singer, is the talent behind "The Atferneath: Songs from Obituaries." Inspired by the subjects of the obits he penned for The New York Times, the album is filled with tracks about a euthanasia-boosting doctor, a reluctant nuclear scientist, a genocide survivor, a public servant who turned to public suicide, a boy dreaming of flying a model airplanes across the ocean, a love-struck cowboy and someone who experienced a late-career ping-pong comeback.
"...To my surprise, the strongest character on this album has turned out to be the 20th century," Hoffman wrote on his website. "From 1940s wartime hobbies, through the gender wars of the 1970s and tabloid kidnap and murder of the 80s -- you could say the album is a sort of technicolor obituary for an American era, one that is slowly fading."
Click here to preview a few tunes or buy the album on iTunes.
Sunday, September 16, 2018
Powell discussed a variety of obits and explained her purpose when writing one: "I wanted to bring the person back to life. I want to learn something about them that I didn't know, the general public probably didn't know, even members of the family didn't know. I wanted to be truthful."
Click here to hear the entire interview.
Sunday, September 09, 2018
Of all the obituaries you've read - or written - what's one you'd pick for kids to read?
I'm a middle school teacher and an obituary enthusiast. I use obituaries in the classroom to introduce students to people who lived inspiring lives, worthy of emulation.*
We've read about the foster mother to ninety-eight children, the first woman to climb the highest mountain on each continent, and the man who invented the study of flags. (Over fifty obits so far - see them all at passedmadepresent.org.) I'm especially interested in obits that may have received insufficient notice.
I'd be grateful if you shared your recommendation(s) in the comment section below.
Many thanks - and thank you for the work you do!
*For more on obituaries' instructional merit, see my Boston Herald op-ed "Obituaries Teach Life's Lessons."
Saturday, August 25, 2018
One SPOW member, Jonathan Semmler, a professor of Portuguese and literature in Brazil, recently published the article, "The Discursive Building of the Brazilian Obituary in the Folha de S. Paulo Newspaper" in the Brazilian scientific journal Forum Linguistico.
Semmler analyzed 2,284 obituaries that appeared in the newspaper between 2007 and 2012 for stylistic, thematic and compositional characteristics. After much study, he described the Brazilian obituary "as an informative and utilitarian journalism genre that uses New Journalism as a stylistic resource in order to soften the mourning of someone’s death by celebrating the person’s life."
Click here (PDF) to read his full paper.
Sunday, July 22, 2018
"Obituaries say much more than who died and where to send flowers," he wrote. "They hold a mirror up to the living, revealing what we think constitutes a well-lived life. They also present a cautionary tale of what not to do if you want to avoid a postmortem write-up that has you spinning in the grave."
Click here to read his story.
Tuesday, June 26, 2018
Dabney, who died on May 26 at the age of 81, was a largely self-taught electrical engineer and the co-founder of Atari, Inc. He developed the basics of video circuitry principles that were used for Pong, one of the first and most successful arcade games, but until about a decade ago, Dabney's achievements in the world of video gaming were largely overlooked.
Click here to read Smith's wonderful obituary of Dabney, then check out the discussion of his life below:
Tuesday, June 12, 2018
Friday, June 08, 2018
Well, for Chicago Sun-Times obituary writer Maureen O'Donnell and columnist/obituary writer Neil Steinberg, it involves connecting the dots between past and present.
"This history is all around us, and it connects everyone," O'Donnell said. "It connects us to the past. It connects us to survival, it connects us to creativity, inspiration."
Watch their full interview below:
Wednesday, June 06, 2018
"It is not our intent to honor the dead; we leave the tributes to the eulogists. We seek only to report deaths and to sum up lives, illuminating why, in our judgment, those lives were significant. The justification for the obituary is in the story it tells." --William McDonald
Monday, June 04, 2018
Avalon Hester, a 17-year-old art student in Napa, Calif., was so intrigued by the women featured in "Overlooked," The New York Times' new series on groundbreaking women who did not receive Times obituaries when they died, that she painted portraits of them. Hester then transformed seven of those portraits into a dress:
These are some pictures of my Final Project - a 12 lbs dress made of 7 full scale portraits on canvas. The portraits are both oil and acrylic, and they’re of women from the New York Times Overlooked Obituary Project. Over the 167 year printing history of the New York Times, only 15% of their obituaries have been of women. This piece used that project to talk about our culture of dismissing women, and how the vulnerability of sharing experiences can abolish it. I’m really proud of this project and the way that Oxbow shaped my art throughout the semester. Thank you to everyone who came to Final Show, and helped make this whole semester possible. Photo cred: the amazing @zaelanewcomb @nytimes @nytimesfashion #nyt #newyorktimes #overlooked #art #oxbow #fashion #dress
A post shared by Avalon Hester (@avalon.hester) on
Sunday, June 03, 2018
Bernstein has spent his career putting the "post" in The Washington Post, first as an obituary writer and then as editor. The American Society of Newspaper Editors recognized Bernstein’s ability to exhume “the small details and anecdotes that get at the essence of the person” and to write stories that are “complex yet stylish.” He is featured in Marilyn Johnson’s book about the obit-writing craft, “The Dead Beat.”
Among the obituaries Bernstein has written, his favorites are those of Edward von Kloberg III, the lobbyist for dictators and despots who embraced the slogan “shame is for sissies”; and the filmmaker Billy Wilder, who wooed his future wife with the line, “I’d worship the ground you walked on, if only you lived in a better neighborhood.”
Perhaps wisely, Bernstein never tried to top Wilder when wooing his own future wife, Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist Marina Walker Guevara. They have two children, Santiago and Mia.
As the fourth president of SPOW, Adam has seen wonderful examples of leadership. Alana Baranick, Andrew Meacham and Maureen O'Donnell all put their own stamp on the society and helped it to flourish. I have no doubt that Bernstein will lead us well.
Monday, April 09, 2018
- The Irish Scratch Sheet
- The Irish Sports Pages
- The Irish Racing Form
- The Irish Comics
Inspired by these discoveries, Maureen wrote an article for the Chicago Sun-Times about the tradition. Click here to learn more.
Tuesday, April 03, 2018
Monday, March 19, 2018
As a service to the news media, the Canadian Association For Suicide Prevention has developed a series of guidelines to help present information about suicide in a responsible manner.
FMI: Click here.
(h/t Ron Csillag)
Sunday, January 28, 2018
#IAmA reporter who writes about the dead for a living for the Chicago Sun-Times/prez of the Society of Professional Obituary Writers. And yes, we obit writers sometimes cry. On Feb. 20 Ask Me Anything @reddit_AMA. @suntimesobits @suntimes @obituarywriters pic.twitter.com/KoPJdkuZ2g— Maureen O'Donnell (@suntimesobits) January 26, 2018