Saturday, April 12, 2014

On the death beat with Margalit Fox

Margalit Fox, a senior writer at The New York Times and the author of "The Riddle of the Labyrinth: The Quest to Crack an Ancient Code," has written more than 1,000 obituaries. Last week, in the "Story Behind The Story" column, she shared some of her experiences on the death beat.

"Almost every day, I am given a mystery to solve – the mystery of how a life was lived, and why that life, although it has run its course, matters vitally to us all.

For the past decade I have worked as an obituary news writer at The Times, most recently as a senior writer. The job – all-consuming, life-giving and never dull – is perhaps the strangest in American journalism but also one of the very best."

Click here for more.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Obit Writer Muses About Life, Love And Death

New York Times obituary writer Bruce Weber has published "Life Is a Wheel: Love Death, Etc., and a Bike Ride Across America," a new travelogue The Associated Press described as both "delightful" and "fascinating."

The book focuses on Weber and his decision at 57 to reprise the coast-to-coast bike ride he took 18 years earlier. The 4,122-mile adventure takes him more than 100 days to complete, with just a few days off for a wedding in New Orleans and a funeral in Los Angeles.

[Weber's] book is more than a chronicle of his two-wheel journey across endless prairie and farm fields and through countless small towns and suburbs. One of the most fascinating sections recalls the author's 1995 bike trip in Vietnam, a more gripping adventure than anything he encounters on his latest ride. He is arrested while riding alone in the jungle, then stranded without food or water, an episode he can now fondly look back on as "one of the great moments of my life."

For more information, click here.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Comments: Yea or Nay?

Should news organizations allow comments on obituaries? free polls 

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Obituary Legend Pens Manual On Military Intelligence And Life

Jim Nicholson, retired Philadelphia Daily News obituary writer and the recipient of The Society of Professional Obituary Writers' first Lifetime Achievement Award, has published "Because No One Else Can -- Inside the Military Intelligence Secret Sausage Factory," a new book on military intelligence and life.

In a recent blog post, SPOW President Andy Meacham noted: "Like his career, there is nothing expected or usual in 'Because No One Else Can -- Inside the Military Intelligence Secret Sausage Factory.' This nearly 800-page tome, available on Amazon, is as he says, a textbook for intelligence analysts. It is also a history book, a primer on strategic thinking and an an amazingly full inside view of the kinds of challenges intelligence agents face in a post 9-11 world."

Click here to learn more.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

WaPo Publishes Obituary Collection

Looking for a stocking stuffer for the obit writer in your life? Here's just the thing.

On Dec. 10th, The Washington Post, in partnership with Diversion Books, published "21 Lives In 2013: Obituaries from The Washington Post." This 121-page ebook, written by the newspaper's top-notch obituary writers, commemorates the lives of Nelson Mandela, Chinua Achebe, Esther Williams, Virginia Johnson, Gussie Moran, Josh Burdette and many more. Marilyn Johnson, author of "The Dead Beat: Lost Souls, Lucky Stiffs and The Perverse Pleasures of Obituaries," also penned the introduction.

Best of all? The book only costs $2.99. Click here to learn more.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Copy Editor Copy Edits His Own Obit

Michael J. Trojanowski, 77, a retired Detroit News copy editor, died on Nov. 9 of emphysema and complications from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. But before he died, the "consummate professional" reportedly copy edited his own obituary.

I wish I had met Trojanowski when he was alive. Not only was he a former journalist for the Associated Press, he was a fellow overnighter.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

What Do We Owe The Dead?

Our fearless leader, Andy Meacham, discussed obituaries that are less-than-lauditory with HuffPost Live this week: