Gone, But Not Forgotten

    by Geoff Dougherty
    October 30, 2007

    I’ve unexpectedly been thinking a bit lately about how news organizations cover death and the lifes lived by the recently deceased.

    Our website doesn’t currently run obits, but in light of my blathering about how valuable they are as a community service, it seems like we probably ought to. The question: What’s the Web 2.0 version of the obit. Video? Roll-your-own death notice?

    How can we best use the web to fulfill and expand on the purposes of the traditional newspaper obituary?


    Suggestions invited.

    Tagged: community service obituaries
    • Dan Schultz

      An interesting question.

      In thinking about it, it may be worth looking at some of the naturally occurring “obituaries”/memorials that have popped up around the internet. For instance, Facebook profiles of people who have died (http://media.www.browndailyherald.com/media/storage/paper472/news/2007/02/22/Features/Facebook.Profiles.Become.Makeshift.Memorials-2736508.shtml?mkey=2429152)

      There are also a few services out there that lets people create digital memorials (just google something along those lines and you’ll see what I mean)

      I know these aren’t exactly the same as an obituary, but then again when you add the 2.0 functionality that you’re describing it ultimately serves a similar purpose… Bringing it to the newspaper links it to the community rather than being a page out on the internet though.

      Long story short – make sure we take lessons from the services that exist, but then improve upon them by taking advantage of the fact that we are running a newspaper

    • You should check out the New York Times’ experiment on this:


      They let folks film their obits before they die…

    • Dan:

      In the past four years we’ve chronicled over 900 persons who have died in our “Rest in Peace” forum. Some obits have been viewed more than 10,000 times and others have garnered dozens to 90 or more replies .

      What is interesting is that it becomes something like an online wake, in some instances, as folks tell stories on how they knew or what the deceased had done in their life.

      We empower the local funeral homes to post them and one of the local homes announces in their yellow page ad that their obituaries are posted first on Paulding.com.

      I have been known to pull an obit to the front page when it involves a locally prominent person, as well.

      here is a link ordered by the number of comments.

      You’ll see from it that the death of wrestling star and local resident Big Boss Man Ray Traylor was the most commented upon.

      We also have some folks who will post on the anniversary of their loved one’s death as a form of remembrance.

      This forum is a success.

    • Correction:

      The link did not work as expected (order is recent posts) and the topic should have been addressed to Geoff, not Dan.

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