Sunday, June 30, 2013

Ever Hopeful

"Writing obituaries is usually the first job a new reporter gets, a place to cut his or her teeth and learn the writing craft. Chomping at the bit to get to 'harder news,' reporters have long chafed at the seemingly boring job of compiling death notices. I am different in that I think writing an obituary is an honor and a respectful way to mark one person’s passage on this plane. I hope we all get a good one when our time comes." --Barbara Morgan

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Giving The Dead A Voice

If you'd like to add audio clips to your obituaries, but aren't sure how to do it, there's a new tool that can help. It's called Soundcite.

Soundcite was produced by the Northwestern University Knight Lab as a way to make inline audio "easy and seamless" to produce. Simply record your audio file (in AIFF, WAVE, FLAC, OGG, MP2, MP3, AAC, AMR or WMA formats) and upload it to SoundCloud. Or, if you don't have your own audio, search the SoundCloud directory for the clip you need. Then, copy the file's URL into the Soundcite page, and it'll give you the embed code for the online version of your story.

For example, I wanted to add audio to my Christopher Hitchens obit. I searched SoundCloud and found that HachetteAudio had uploaded an excerpt from his memoir "Hitch 22." I grabbed the URL, pasted it into Soundcite and embedded the code into the obit. Very easy.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Pet obits

Like writing children's books, I suspect that writing obits about one's pets is one of those things a lot of people assume they can do well -- until it's time to actually do it.  I am never sure I want to read about someone's pet who has died.  I figure it's probably going to contain elements of endearing, poignant, funny and of course, the dreaded arc of life we are "lucky" enough to watch by outliving dogs, especially, to the extent that we usually do.

I know the writer is going to go from puppyhood to dysplasia. Worst case scenario, I'll probably read about the expectant eyes on the trip to the vet's office at the end.  "Are we going to the park?"  None of that sort of thing appears in this obit of a golden retriever, written by Daniel Ruth of the Tampa Bay Times, who also just won a Pulitzer for his political columns.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Something We Never Want To Experience

(h/t Romenesko)

Thursday, June 13, 2013

What is the future of obits?

Here are a few of my ideas:

What are your thoughts?

(Note: Additional resources available at

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Missed The SPOW Conference In Toronto?

No worries! Tamara Baluja at J-Source: The Canadian Journalism Project live-blogged Saturday's workshops. Click here to read a running commentary of the day's events.

Monday, June 10, 2013

New Facebook Group for Grimsters!

Jade Walker was asked - or volunteered - to set up a Facebook Group for obit writers. You must check it out.

On the new FB group page for grimsters, we have posted the names of the winners of the SPOW Awards which were presented during the SPOW Conference in Toronto this past weekend.

We'll post them on the Obituary Forum blog too, but we want to lure you to the FB group first.

More to come - both on this blog and our FB group page - on awards, the fabulous Toronto conference, future conferences, the future of SPOW and more!