Bare Bones Death Notices

It’s a killer, the financial pressure on newspapers these days.

So bad, that unless you live an extraordinary life, the hometown paper that announced your birth may announce your death- but say absolutely nothing about what happened in between.

The Ithaca Journal has started charging for obituaries. No money, no bio. You get name, date of birth, and date of death.

The Journal is the latest- but not the first- Central New York paper to stake its claim on those “final expenses” every family has to pay.

funeral-flowers.jpgThe Post Standard offers families the first two inches for free, you can put whatever information you’d like on it.

The Auburn Citizen offers free death notices which include a line about where services will be held, but a full obituary costs $1.50 per line, an extra $5 for a picture and then $10 more if you want it online.

The Oneida Dispatch also offers free death notices including services, a full obit in that paper will cost you $13.23 per column inch, which puts a normal size obituary at about $90.

NewsChannel 9

Some funeral directors say newspapers owe families- at least, poor families- a chance to let friends and relatives know where and when the final services will be, and believe it’s wrong that some of their policies do not allow for publication of that information free of charge. Here’s the off-air video from NewsChannel 9.


4 Responses to Bare Bones Death Notices

  1. […] CNY Circus writes on the Ithaca Journal now charging for death notices. […]

  2. Robinia says:

    Now, there is a clever way around this OBNOXIOUS new policy of the Ithaca Journal’s, pioneered by a recently-deceased individual. Although a hard-working, tax-paying member of our community, his full-time job did not pay him sufficiently to afford a home other than a tent in an undeveloped part of the city of Ithaca. When he did not come in to work and did not call, his employer contacted a friend of his, who went, in the cold winter temperatures, to find him deceased in his tent. The story in the Ithaca Journal did not include his name or any info, but it did include a crass statement by a local homeless shelter manager about how he was probably an alcoholic who did not seek proper medical attention when he had illnesses, but simply drank himself into a stupor from which he did not wake up. AFTER THAT, the Ithaca Journal was willing to print letters to the editor from friends who explained that he was not an individual who ever drank, and allowed them to explain a little about his life and death. Of course, it was too late for mentioning where services were held, but, at least a little truth about the life he had led was offered to the public.

    In this age, poor people should not have to go through such nonsense to be briefly recognized by their communities at the end of their lives.

  3. Dan Weaver says:

    The Schenectady Gazette doesn’t charge for the first 200 words, but few death notices can be written with so few words. The upside of the change in policy about death notices is that now family members often write them, and they are better written than they used to be. Some funeral homes are picking up the tab now with their logo prominently displayed at the end. I have a feeling, however, that the funeral homes are tacking the cost of the notice onto the cost of the funeral.

  4. […] Bones II: Obituaries Mourned Early in April, our post on “Bare Bones Death Notices” drew a fair amount of indignant agreement that in charging grieving families for a simple obituary, […]

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