Saturday, January 12, 2013

An Awesome Introduction To The Death Beat

The South Florida chapter of the Society Of Professional Journalists is sponsoring a unique writing workshop for aspiring obit writers. The goal of the "SPJ Death Race" is to help reporters learn how to write a great obituary in a hands-on -- and fun -- fashion.

On Jan. 19, SPJ South Florida will fake three deaths. Participants will take a crash course in obit writing with Miami Herald obituary writer Elinor Brecher, then spend the afternoon attending a mock memorial at an area funeral home, interviewing arrivals about the deceased and eating dessert. Afterwards, the reporters will head to the newsroom of the South Florida Gay News and write their stories.

All obits will be judged by Brecher and the "deceased." The writer of the best obit will win an awesome urn filled with the ashes of pages burned from local newspapers.

"Why are we doing this? Because it can be argued that few stories are more important than those summing up a life just concluded. Yet few journalists are taught how to write obituaries. So while we’re obviously having some fun with the process, we’re quite serious about the topic. You will learn something by the end of the day," Michael Koretzky stated.