What does it take to revive feature obituaries?
Before the famous and powerful die, notice of their death is often already written. When death comes — the details are polished, dates added, and their stories get shared.
RJI Fellows reflect on eight month projects, what they’ve learned and how the industry can benefit
Seven fellows at the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute who have been working on innovative projects that can benefit the journalism industry, over the past eight months, are wrapping up their projects. Six shared findings and insights from their projects, as well as links to resources during a recent Q&A webinar with the public. We’ve … Continued
After 7 months reporting, a surprise discovery — Obits are evergreen
Recently I sat down with the Tampa Bay Times’ analytics tool, Parse.ly, to see what I could learn from seven months of obituary reporting. I found something I did not expect. I read author reports each week on the pieces I write, so I see how they did one week after publication. I’ve learned how … Continued
Launching a newsletter and thinking about analytics
It’s not just about clicks When we launched our obits newsletter, How They Lived, on December 8, I had one big concern: Would anyone read it? Honestly, I worry about that with everything I publish, but launching a new product so close to the holidays only amped up that worry. The beauty of making journalism … Continued
How an idea about local obits became a newsletter
Take that thing you’ve been thinking about doing for awhile now and make it real. A few years ago, I had this idea. I wondered if local, reported obituaries could help local newsrooms build subscribers, and therefore help support the business itself while connecting them with their communities. I talked it out in hallways and … Continued
How to write a newsletter about the dead
“For me, it’s knowing I’m going to learn something interesting (also potentially important, alarming, life-saving, funny, depending on the newsletter.)”
Turns out there’s a few things about obituaries that need re-thinking
Obituaries are a lot of things.
They’re a legal notice of death. They’re the story of a life. They’re a tool for grieving. And they’re a business.
In taking on one kind of obituary – the story – for this fellowship, I constantly bump into all the other forms.
Lessons from a viral obituary
Once in a while, notice of someone’s death takes on a life all its own — the addict who was also a mother with a beautiful voice, the hard-living, sweet-souled uncle, the former beauty queen grandma who wrote her own obituary. Three months into my RJI fellowship experimenting with obituaries, I’ve been thinking a lot about what … Continued
Can obituaries help save local news?
Years ago when asked what will save local news, Steven Waldman had two answers: national service and obituaries. You might know Waldman as the co-founder of Report for America, a Peace Corps-like model that pairs emerging journalists with local newsrooms to cover critical issues to those communities. After years of talking with journalists about what … Continued
Local obits still matter and other lessons from covering the dead for digital
“We’re living through extraordinary times. And because of the pandemic, we’re losing extraordinary people.”