Blogging about death … and life

We all know there are blogs about everything. In case you were wondering, yes, there is even a blog on obits.

Editor and Publisher recently did a story on the Washington Post’s blog “Post Mortem“. It’s quite the idea to have a blog on obituaries, especially when the space in many papers for obits is getting smaller and smaller. (My paper recently started charging for obits- a service we used to offer to print for free.) 

post-mortemThe blog mainly highlights more well-known people who have died recently. Sometimes, the posts even give insight into how the writer went about writing the obit. In the case of Marilyn Chambers, a 1970s porn star who died recently, Matt Schudel goes says he had to be careful in writing this obit.

 

The story broke rather late in the day — after 3:30 p.m. — and we had to scramble to see how best to cover it. Naturally, it led to all kinds of awful newsroom puns. (Yeah, sure, I’m “all over” the Marilyn Chambers story.) Chambers was certainly a significant cultural figure of the 1970s, but since we’re still a mass-circulation newspaper, with standards of taste to maintain, I had to decide on the fly how much and how little we could say about what she actually did.

I opted for the modest approach, describing only in very general terms what happened in “Behind the Green Door” and in Chambers’s other films.

 

Obits are one of the most popular things in newspapers. People love reading about who died and if they knew them. In the latter case, then the obits give them the ability to see when the services are- a chance to pay their final respects. While the Washington Post’s blog isn’t new- it’s been around for a year and a half according to the E&P story- it’s still such a great idea. I wonder if other papers will pick this up.

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