The final rip-off — paid obituaries

From the Rose Law Group Reporter Growlery

By Phil Riske | Senior Reporter/Writer

Let’s call this an “obitchuary.”

I assisted with an obituary this week for a dear friend. The husband had to pay $559 to The Arizona Republic to publish it.

In a way, newspapers hold you hostage: How could you possibly be unwilling to pay for the news about a loved one?

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.”

C’mon man!

Also, the family has to write and submit it, which could be considered a burden in that a survivor has to provide proof of death, or it’s a positive, as the family will get it right instead of some faceless obit writer or a funeral home.

I must include in this growlery some praise for The Arizona Republic’s obituary department, where staff was very helpful, professional, and well understanding that last-minute changes will most likely be part of the process.

Meanwhile, there’s a legal 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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