Sunday, January 31, 2010

Dishing dirt on the deceased

Monday magazine features an interview with Sandra Martin, chief obituary writer for the Globe and Mail, touching on all her writing talent and honors.

She tells the interviewer: "Being an obituary writer is the most interesting and terrifying job in the newsroom—interesting because you never repeat yourself and terrifying because you never know who will be the next to die."

Yes, while other reporters are struggling to find a fresh way to write yet another first day of school, opening of the legislature or weather story, we get to delve into an interesting life and bring readers a different story every day.

It's a quick read, has a fabulous photo of Sandra and gives insight on how she "makes her subject 'breathe one more time. . .'."

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

150 Ways to Leave the Planet

Carlos Alcala takes on the subject of euphemisms used in paid obituaries and death notices to inform readers that a person has died in "The 'D' Word" in today's (Jan. 19, 2010) Sacramento Bee.

Until I read it, I didn't realize that avoiding the D word is at least as old as the Bible. Alcala points out that in the book of Genesis (the first book of the Bible) "Abraham gave up the ghost . . . and was gathered unto his people."

Alcala also cites the website of Bea Toney Bailey, who has a local cable TV show called "Bea on Bereavement" sponsored by the Interfaith Service Bureau. The site is called "Farewell, My Friend."

Interesting stuff.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

2010 Society of Professional Obituary Writers Convention

Read the latest about the Society of Professional Obituary Writers (SPOW) Convention that will take place at The Philadelphia Inquirer April 22-24, 2010, on the SPOW Convention page at

We expect to announce the complete program schedule, including speakers and topics as well as registration information, before the end of January.

Please note that we have not contracted for a block of hotel rooms, but we are designating Four Points by Sheraton Philadelphia Airport as our convention hotel. Room rates at downtown hotels near the Inquirer building are exceptionally high the week of our convention. Four Points and most other airport-area hotels offer much lower rates and special promotions.

Four Points also has a lobby, lounge and restaurant where conventioneers can hang out and meet for purposes of carpooling and cab-sharing to travel downtown.

We'll set up an online site for registration after the program is announced. We'll confer with those who register early to determine the site of our kickoff dinner and more.

We'll post updates as they become available. Contact me at or my personal email address for more information and to offer suggestions.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Obit writer featured in California paper, blog

Society of Professional Obituary Writers (SPOW) member Lisa Kimble is the subject of a feature titled "Liven up your obituary with a little help" in the Jan. 3, 2010, edition of the Bakersfield Californian.

Dianne Hardesty, who wrote the piece, also has posted a version of it on her own blog under the heading "Journalist's Niche -- Six Feet Under."

SPOW, its website, its upcoming convention and legendary obit writer Jim Nicholson are mentioned in the article.

Nicholson will be a featured speaker at the convention, which will be held April 22-24, 2010, in Philadelphia.
Watch for convention updates on the Obituary Forum and on the SPOW website.