Wednesday, April 20, 2016

WATCH: The new teaser trailer for 'Obit'

"Obit," the new documentary from director Vanessa Gould, gives viewers a behind-the-scenes look at The New York Times‘ obituary department.

Obit editor William McDonald, along with past and present staff writers Bruce Weber, Margalit Fox, William Grimes, Douglas Martin and Paul Vitello share their thoughts about what it's like to cover the death beat for a living.

Here's the latest teaser trailer for the film:

Sunday, March 20, 2016

The latest trend: Obituaries featuring political commentary

Have you checked the obituaries lately? Several members of the recently departed have been using death notices to make one final plea to voters about who they should back in November.

SPOW President Maureen O'Donnell discussed this trend with WBBM 780/105.9FM. Click here to listen to the report.

The best books about obituaries

The Society of Professional Obituary Writers website features a list of books for obituary writers and readers. Do you have any suggestions for other tomes we should add? If so, email us your favorite titles.


Monday, March 07, 2016

Obits: The Movie

OBIT, a documentary by Vanessa Gould, opens at the TriBeCa Film Festival on April 17. Starring George Clooney, Cate Blanchett, Julia Roberts, Leonardo DiCaprio et al. Thanks to The New York Times reporter Bruce Weber for giving us a heads up on this.

Click here for a trailer preview of Ms. Gould's documentary on The New York Times obituaries. I can't wait until it hits my neighborhood theaters.

Margalit Speaks

The Paris Review published an interview with the inimitable Margalit Fox, The New York Times' 20-year obituary writer, in September 2014. Here's the top of Alex Ronan's interview with Margalit that's as good a read today as it was then.


In nearly twenty years and twelve hundred obituaries, Margalit Fox, a senior writer at the New York Times, has chronicled the lives of such personages as the president of Estonia, an underwater cartographer, and the inventor of Stove Top Stuffing. An instrumental figure in pushing the obituary past Victorian-era formal constraints, Fox produces features-style write-ups of her subjects whether they’re ubiquitous public figures, comparatively unknown men and women whose inventions have changed the world, or suicidal poets.  

(Photo by Ivan Farkas)

Click here for the full interview. I not only wish I could write as well as Margalit, I wish I could give as good an interview as her.


Monday, February 22, 2016

How to write your own obituary

Not famous enough to warrant a front-page obituary in the newspaper? Or perhaps your local media outlet has a limited staff and can't cover every death in the community. If you want to have your final story told, you may just have to write it yourself.

Here are a few tips on doing so.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Yes, more people really do die during the winter months

So why is this important? As Legacy.com founder Stopher Bartol noted:

"Because those who serve the needs of people experiencing the death of a friend or loved one should be aware that their services will typically be in greater demand in December, January and March than in June, August and September, and they must prepare accordingly. For example, if a newspaper picks one month to run public service announcements telling their readers about the obituary services they provide, they probably want that month to be sometime in late fall or winter when deaths are on their seasonal rise, so people will hear their message in advance of most needing to avail themselves of their services."

FMI: Click here.

Saturday, December 05, 2015

Quote of the day


"Every morning I wake up and read the obituaries. And if I'm not in 'em, I have breakfast."
--Carl Reiner

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Dying Words Reach A New Audience

Jeff Schmalz, The New York Times reporter who found his calling in writing about HIV and AIDS, is the subject of a new book and radio documentary titled “Dying Words.” Before Schmalz died in 1993 of complications of the disease, the 39-year-old journalist helped to change how the paper of record viewed gay people.

Between Nov. 15, 2015 and Jan. 10, 2016, the documentary will air on NPR affiliate stations across the U.S. Here is a list of locations and air dates. Or click below to listen to “Dying Words" now.