The final ripoff: Paid obituaries

From the Rose Law Group Reporter Growlery

By Phil Riske | Senior Reporter/Writer

Call this an “obitchuary.”

They’re going to get you one last time when you check out.

A high school classmate died recently, and her friends wondered why hometown newspapers hadn’t published her obituary. Looking into it, we were told an obituary would have to be purchased.

Thinking it couldn’t cost all that much, I offered to pay for her obits in the Wyoming State Tribune and a Seattle paper: $250 and $475, respectively.

C’mon man!

Such newspapers hold you hostage — How can you not possibly be willing to pay to publish the news about your loved one?

And, you have to write it.

The trend toward paid obituaries, noted a few years ago by U.S. News & World Report, is rapidly accelerating. Steven S. Duke, a researcher at the Readership Institute at Northwestern University, wrote in a recent study, ”Space and revenue concerns led newspapers to run fewer, shorter obituaries, or shift them from a news item to a classified advertising revenue category.”

There’s a debate over whether newspapers have copyright claims to obituaries written by family. But that’s a debate for another day.

In the meantime, don’t die.

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