The Daily Star, Oneonta, NY - otsego county news, delaware county news, oneonta news, oneonta sports

Columns

January 22, 2013

Like newspapers, obituaries have evolved

When I left The Daily Star a few years ago, I promised our news clerk that I would be sending along my obituary so she could keep it on file. That way, when the time came, all she would have to do is plug in the date.

Guess what? I haven’t followed through, though I have not avoided the subject. Obituaries have changed so much over the last quarter century; I simply have not been able to decide how to write it.

I know this may seem like a grim subject, and it can be, I guess, but it is something we all have to deal with at some point. You know, there are birth notices, graduations, weddings, career accolades and, eventually, obituaries. They are part of our lives.

It is no coincidence that obituaries are the most-read section of most newspapers.

Until about 1990, newspapers treated obituaries as news; they were published free of charge and followed a strict style that required factual statements. After the mini-recession in the late 1980s, most newspapers started charging a fee for obits. That led to a loosening of the news style. Families were permitted to say just about anything they wanted, since obits had to be treated more like paid ads.

That’s why today you often see much more than the traditional “who, what, why, where and when’’ in the first paragraphs of obituaries. It is not uncommon to read that so-and-so died and went home to join ancestors with the lord in Heaven. Years ago, you couldn’t say that.

Also forbidden by traditional style were adjectives describing how accomplished or great people were. Today, you could read that someone was the nicest guy in town and spent his life helping others. That may or may not be true, so in the old days you couldn’t say it in an obit.

Text Only
Big Chuck D'Imperio
Cary Brunswick

Chuck Pinkey
Guest Column

Lisa Miller

Mark Simonson

Rick Brockway

Sam Pollak
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.

    September 18, 2012

  • 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.

    September 4, 2012

  • 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.

    August 21, 2012

  • 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.

    August 7, 2012

  • 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.

    July 24, 2012

Additional Content
Join the Debate
Helium
Additional Resources
CNHI News Service
Poll

Is Israel justified to conduct its military campaign against the Hamas in Gaza?

Yes
No
Undecided/no opinion
     View Results