"The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated."
- Mark Twain, upon learning that his obituary had been published in the New York Journal.
Obituaries have long been a staple of American newspapers, even being the only items some people read each day.
As someone who writes a column, that’s a practice I would heartily discourage.
Still, I can understand those who say they look at the obituaries first thing in the morning, and if their name isn’t there, they get up and have breakfast.
I’ve also come to understand family members who include unusual entries in the summations of their loved ones’ lives.
How many times have you seen something like this?
"Among the survivors are her Aunt Helen, Uncle Jake and her beloved cat, Fluffy."
For many years, newspapers have grappled with the concept of paid obituaries, that is, allowing folks to write virtually anything they want about the deceased as long as they are willing to pay for however many words they use.
Traditionally, obituaries have been free, written by a reporter or copy editor and edited just like any other newsworthy event.
Mentioning Fluffy _ or, for that matter, any other pet _ would not be allowed. A lot of papers also won’t include cousins, grandchildren and other relatively distant relatives.
On some of the nation’s larger newspapers, the obituary beat is much-prized because it gives a writer the opportunity to explore the lives of interesting people and to chronicle history.
But often, doing obituaries is the first thing a rookie reporter is assigned to do.
Most of those "obits" are heavily dependent upon information provided by the family or funeral homes and are done in a formulaic fashion to conform with the newspaper’s writing style.
The trend toward paid obituaries has been fueled by people’s desires to write what they want without the filter of a reporter or copy editor doing more than cleaning up grammar and punctuation mistakes.
"The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated."
- Big Chuck D'Imperio
Woodstock continues to provide memories
I went to Woodstock last weekend. No, not the concert site. The village.Continued ...
- Let's put a check on 'check engine' light
- Keep those cards and letters coming in, folks
- 1965 Oscars? Thanks for the memories
- There was just no telling about snow days
- Woodstock continues to provide memories
- Cary Brunswick
Government lost trust by spying on us
Flaws in that little padlock on people's supposedly secure Internet sites have sent users in recent days scrambling to change passwords and question whether they should keep providing sensitive information in their online interactions.Continued ...
- History hurts our credibility on Crimea
- Hardships, repression, don't get Cubans down
- It's time for warmer relations with Cuba
- Unconventional events changed my outlook
- Government lost trust by spying on us
- Chuck Pinkey
- Guest Column
The anti-pipeline crowd won't win
At the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's hearing in Oneonta on April 1, the antis continued their obstruction of anything fossil-fuel related.Continued ...
- Not the 'most perfect village' for the mentally ill
- The reality of our economy vs. 'what if'
- Don't opt-in for high-stakes testing
- Constitution will pipe money into local schools
- The anti-pipeline crowd won't win
- Lisa Miller
A view from above
Fire towers in the Catskill Mountains have always been destination points, built to capture some of the region’s best views. These sentinel stations served an important role for the earliest possible sightings of forest fires in the remote mountain ranges. But the fire towers and those who manned them fulfilled a multitude of other roles as well.Continued ...
- Being a parent is a constant learning process
- Healthy doesn't have to mean expensive
- A family era ends with close of Potter series
- Independent stores make up for loss of Borders
- A view from above
- Mark Simonson
A historian's mailbag reflects, corrects recent columns
It seems like an eternity since I last reached into the historian's "mailbag" to share some correspondence. The "bag" of today can include electronic mail, or just someone stopping to chat with me in the supermarket or places I may be speaking to groups. But I'll reiterate what my fellow columnist Big Chuck said recently, "Keep those cards and letters coming."Continued ...
- Signs of springtime in Oneonta arrived in April 1889
- Student housing stirred unrest in 1970s
- Oneonta reveled in spring 'Dress Up Week' in 1919
- Proposed change to Delaware County Community College rejected in 1959
- A historian's mailbag reflects, corrects recent columns
- Rick Brockway
Gilbert Lake brings back fond memories
A friend posted on Facebook some pictures of him and his daughter fishing at Gilbert Lake.
- Frog legs always a neat treat
- You never know what you're going to see on the slopes
- Chestnuts are making a comeback
- Fishing is all about being in the right place at the right time
- Gilbert Lake brings back fond memories
- Sam Pollak
Mr. Adelson disturbs my 'ghetto mentality'
This Sheldon Adelson guy makes me very nervous.Continued ...
- A minority group that's getting out of hand
- Religion should be a comfort, not a weapon
- The world must think we're nuts
- Mistakes easy to take ... if they're not yours
- Mr. Adelson disturbs my 'ghetto mentality'
- William Masters
Schreibman tops Chris Gibson on women's issues
As the time to vote draws near, we need to remember how money can run politics more than we can. Raising funds is a prominent (if not the dominant) task of getting elected. Raising issues is also crucial, but those efforts are subject to distortion and fear-mongering.
Republicans feelentitled to allthey can garner
An entitlement is a legal benefit available from the government to individuals who are within a defined category of recipients, such as needing insurance for unemployment or health services.
Romney focuses on self; Obama emphasizes unity
Mitt Romney criticizes President Obama for saying a person's success is rooted in his community, and is not all his alone. Romney belittles this with his belief in individual initiative. He is better at the put-down than the push-up.
Romney shows little regard for common man
The Republicans in Congress have voted over and over, 33 times, redundantly and uselessly, to rescind what they call Obamacare.
Scouts' gay ban creates problem where none exists
The Boy Scouts of America's "emphatic reaffirmation" of its vow to exclude any and all homosexuals from its hallowed ranks is ill-considered and pathetic, especially in view of its having reviewed the matter for two years.
- Schreibman tops Chris Gibson on women's issues