Bare 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, newspapers may be going too far. We’re not talking about those full-column rambles listing every pet the deceased ever owned, but about a simple bio, a list of close surviving relatives, and the final arrangements.

ithacajournal.gifWell now, the Ithaca Journal- the focus of most of the original story- is at it again. It has moved the names of the recently dead to the front page, and is limiting the obit section toward the back of the paper to paying customers. Bad idea? Some readers are practically in mourning:

The new policy of the obituary page in The Ithaca Journal saddens me deeply.

In the highest respect for people, the obituary column was once shared by all. With the policy change, that right no longer stands. The Journal now has split their policy. The death notices are listed on the front page and only the paid notices on the obituary page.

Letter to editor from G. Gary Jaynes

So here’s how the paper is trying to dig its way out of this one:

The Ithaca Journal has revised its policy on reporting local obituaries. The unpaid listing on deaths of local residents that appears on page 1A now includes the name of the funeral home so relatives and friends can obtain additional information on pending memorial services. In addition, information on the decedent’s age and town of origin are listed.

Ithaca Journal editor’s note

A lovely parting gift to the non-paying customers, don’t you think?

It’s still practically guaranteed that you will get your name in the paper twice: when you’re born and when you die. But now, in Ithaca, this means that the deaths of people with limited means (or uncaring relatives) will be front page news- in a limited sort of way.

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