Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Newspaper Death Notices May Be a Dying Business

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the it's-dead-jim dept.

Businesses 171

Hugh Pickens writes "Alan D. Mutter writes in his journalism blog 'Reflections of a Newsosaur' that some newspapers exploit bereaved families with exorbitantly priced death notices — a distasteful and strategically inept way for them to try to make ends meet. 'I stumbled across the problem this week when I tried to buy a death notice in ... the San Francisco Chronicle, which proposed charging $450 for the one-day run of a crappy-looking, 182-word death notice,' writes Mutter. But lose the death notice business, and newspapers risk losing a huge audience driver as well. The solution may be partnering with websites like Legacy.com, a site that already publishes death notices for about two-thirds of the people who die each day in the US. 'It may not be easy to figure out the terms of a broader collaboration, writes Rich Gordon on Poynter.org, 'partly because some newspaper executives are wary of Legacy and feel the company could become a competitive threat for audiences and revenue. But this is exactly the reaction many newspaper executives had to collaborating with Internet companies in other classified advertising categories. I'd hate to see newspapers make the same mistake with death notices and obituaries.'"

cancel ×

171 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

trolltalk may be a dying SID (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31889420)

Now that no one is carp flooding 20721, [slashdot.org] Taco will be closing it any day! (in during "and nothing of value was lost)

Every respectful person... (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31889426)

Every respectful person is sure to twitter his or her death as it's happening.

Re:Every respectful person... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31889698)

I don't know about you guys, but knowing that gay marriage exists here now has hurt marriage. Whenever I try and fuck my wife, all I can think about is two sweaty, heaving male bodies joined together in government sanctioned disgusting decadent man sex with large calloused hands grasping and moist gasping lips joined with giant throbbing cocks ohh yeah

Re:Every respectful person... (5, Funny)

Peach Rings (1782482) | more than 4 years ago | (#31889724)

Her heart sank down and down, there was no bottom to death, she couldn’t come to the end of it. The blue light from Cornelia’s lampshade drew into a tiny point in the center of her brain, it flickered and winked like an eye, quietly it fluttered and dwindled. Granny laid curled down within herself, amazed and watchful, staring at the point of light that was herself; her body was now only a deeper mass of shadow in an endless darkness and this darkness would curl around the light and swallow it up. God, give a sign!

For a second time there was no sign. Again no bridegroom and the priest in the house. She could not remember any other sorrow because this grief wiped them all away. Oh, no, there’s nothing more cruel than this – I’ll never forgive it. She stretched herself with a deep breath, took out her cell phone, and fired off a quick tweet.

Re:Every respectful person... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31889914)

140 characters, faggot. Stay within the limit.

Re:Every respectful person... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31889966)

I had my innate Bad Fanfiction Alert(tm) warning resounding throughout my head by the twelfth word. Preserve your sanity today for only $9.99!

Re:Every respectful person... (2)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#31889820)

Pulse sensor connected via BT with smartphone, which can send preset message to twitter? That's...easily doable.

Re:Every respectful person... (1)

crispytwo (1144275) | more than 4 years ago | (#31890294)

prone to error, but hey, who can knock the living dead?

All hail zombies everywhere!

But seriously, I just talked with my (old) parents about this recently as a relative passed away a short while ago. It seems that the primary reason my parents get the newspaper is for the obits. Even then the funeral homes in their area supply a web site with better obituaries, I think, for no extra charge with the service.

To me, the idea of buying a paper to find out if, perchance, someone died is absurd.

In this case, I found out by email and looked online at the obituary (at the time I was living 600k away).

Re:Every respectful person... (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#31890368)

prone to error, but hey, who can knock the living dead?

All hail zombies everywhere!

Yup, all the more fun ;>

And TBH I'm kinda awaiting unobtrusive logging and monitoring of (many) vital signs, round the clock...

Re:Every respectful person... (1)

fbjon (692006) | more than 4 years ago | (#31890474)

Logging of vitals signs is both for good and bad, it might be a hypochondriac's nightmare. I'm looking forward to automated health monitoring myself, but before that, just looking at raw data is probably not going to be all that useful, as I'll see all sorts of "problems" going on that aren't really problems. Interpretation is key.

Re:Every respectful person... (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#31890626)

I think hypochondriacs find enough of causes to worry already...

But yeah, that's what I mean - health monitoring; so important changes won't go easily unnoticed and help will be immediatelly dispatched in a case of emergency.

Re:Every respectful person... (1)

jhoegl (638955) | more than 4 years ago | (#31890690)

When couples are trying to conceive, they will monitor the woman for fertility and the man for erections. Hmmm, perhaps they should use this on priests, tied to a shock collar.

Re:Every respectful person... (1)

Burpmaster (598437) | more than 4 years ago | (#31890830)

Every respectful person is sure to twitter his or her death as it's happening.

"Ugh ugh I'm dying you idiot!"

Man, this is an old and obscure reference...

Huge audience driver? (1)

Dragoniz3r (992309) | more than 4 years ago | (#31889456)

Really? That many people read the newspaper just to find out who died recently? I don't doubt that people do it, but are there really that many of them?

Re:Huge audience driver? (5, Insightful)

Saint Stephen (19450) | more than 4 years ago | (#31889496)

Yeah, when you get Gray hair, it becomes a popular pastime. Believe it or not, people used to live in things called Communities, and sometimes, they'd recognize a name in the paper, because they Knew People.

I know, I can't believe it either. How wierd.

Re:Huge audience driver? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31889598)

I seriously don't think you've ever even talked to an old person, let alone spent time with one, if you think their past time is reading about their friends who have died.

Re:Huge audience driver? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31889706)

Hmm but you can simply create a watch list on legacy.com and receive updates by email. And if old people enjoy the pastime of solving set intersection problems by hand, we could give them cheap booklets full of such problems.

Re:Huge audience driver? (2, Funny)

ManlySpork (1542827) | more than 4 years ago | (#31889752)

So should we have them put our slashdot nicknames and member numbers in the newspapers? Quick all you Anonymous Cowards, this might be your last chance to not die as an AC. You might not live to see tomorrow, never know.

and to take it a step further... (5, Insightful)

IANAAC (692242) | more than 4 years ago | (#31889792)

In a city like SF, I can sort of understand why it doesn't really make sense anymore to publish obits.

SF is largely transient. It isn't made up of longstanding communities anymore. Neighborhoods, yes. Communities, not so much. It's largely a young person's town, and most of the young people who live in SF aren't from there. No different than NYC (or any other large, attractive city), I guess.

I think the only places where tightly knit communities would still want that sort of service are mostly small towns, where families and friends still actually commune together. Most suburbs aren't that sort of community either - they're places people go to sleep after working too many hours in another suburb or city.

Re:and to take it a step further... (2, Informative)

Alexei (548402) | more than 4 years ago | (#31890026)

These communities do continue to exist, they just don't advertise and they're not written up in the paper as the latest trend.

Re:and to take it a step further... (3, Insightful)

dwye (1127395) | more than 4 years ago | (#31890096)

Most suburbs aren't that sort of community either - they're places people go to sleep after working too many hours in another suburb or city.

Except that suburbanites put their obits in the main city paper (or papers - still a few cities with two majors, for various reasons), not in the local upgraded PennySaver. And yes, I write from experience.

As far as obits and young/transient cities go, I doubt that the survivors of the transients put obits in the (frex) SF paper, but instead put them in their home town papers, if anywhere.

I think the only places where tightly knit communities would still want that sort of service are mostly small towns

Or places that used to attract people, like Detroit or Pittsburgh, where there is still a core of non-movers who act as contact points for those who left.

If you come to San Francisco... (1)

lennier (44736) | more than 4 years ago | (#31890482)

... be sure to wear some Craigslist in your hair.

Re:and to take it a step further... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31890538)

No different than NYC (or any other large, attractive city)

Attractive? Puh. They're the world's worst shitholes.

Re:Huge audience driver? (3, Insightful)

dAzED1 (33635) | more than 4 years ago | (#31889796)

I still live in a community - have parties with my neighbors on a regular basis, even. But that doesn't mean I'm going to morbidly look in obituaries every day to see if one of them died - because, you know, I'm actually still *in touch* with my friends, so if one died I'd know about it...I wouldn't need to read about it in the paper.

Re:Huge audience driver? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31890590)

So you don't know many people in that case. Obits are useful for the people you met at some point, but haven't seen in decades and have no idea about. Friend's friends, distant relatives, perhaps co-workers.

Re:Huge audience driver? (4, Interesting)

Mashiki (184564) | more than 4 years ago | (#31889816)

I'm in my 30's and get the paper around here for just that. Because you do lose touch with friends. In the last 2 years I've had 3 friends die from cancer and one commit suicide. All good friends that I went to school with, it's not just the grey hair folks but those of us who have strong community ties. If I walked downtown, nearly every shopkeeper would greet me by name.

As well, the costs of these things are...insane. My grandfather who was rather well known in the community died 2 years ago. To run his obituary in 3 of the local/nearby community papers ran around $800.

Re:Huge audience driver? (3, Insightful)

BitZtream (692029) | more than 4 years ago | (#31890086)

There was a time when newspapers ran birth and death announcements for free ... as a community service.

Now they charge?

Its no wonder they are going under, its always good to kick people when their down.

Re:Huge audience driver? (3, Interesting)

Let's Kiosk (410813) | more than 4 years ago | (#31890856)

Most newspapers still run free obituaries as well as paid death notices. But the free versions are generally limited in the types of information contain, and as newspapers have cut back on their size they've also reduced the amount of detail the obits contain. At the newspaper where I work, it's pretty much name, age, where the person lived and when and where the funeral is. (Some of the really big papers have eliminated the free ones altogether).

The paid death notices, on the other hand, function more like classifieds: You can write it any way you want, and you pay by the line or the word.

What most people don't realize, though, is that the funeral homes charge a hefty free even for providing the newspaper with the barebones information for a free obit. And some funeral homes do an appalling job. One major home in my city seems to pick the employee with the most God-awful penmanship to scrawl the information by hand; names are hard to read and details like place names are often misspelled. One of my first newsroom jobs largely consisted of fact-checking the info the funeral homes frequently got wrong (incorrectly putting two t's in "Paterson, NJ," stuff like that). Of course, the papers have pretty much cut all those jobs as well.

Re:Huge audience driver? (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#31890210)

So why the need for the paper if it's such a community?

Or maybe the papers just found a way to extract money from something which, over time, was established as a proper thing to do? (to be fair, predatory practices around funerals are rampant all around)

Re:Huge audience driver? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31890718)

I'm in my 30's and get the paper around here for just that. Because you do lose touch with friends. In the last 2 years I've had 3 friends die from cancer and one commit suicide. All good friends that I went to school with, it's not just the grey hair folks but those of us who have strong community ties. If I walked downtown, nearly every shopkeeper would greet me by name.

In today's world, where it's so easy and cheap to remain connected with people regardless of where they live, that doesn't make sense. Anyone that I'm not currently in touch with, I'm not close enough to that I'd care if they died.

Seriously, people's facebook / myspace friends include people they have never met in real life. Is there really anyone that you have any feelings for whatsoever that you would find out about their death from an obituary before you found out through other sources?

Re:Huge audience driver? (2, Informative)

careysub (976506) | more than 4 years ago | (#31890872)

...My grandfather who was rather well known in the community died 2 years ago. To run his obituary in 3 of the local/nearby community papers ran around $800.

When my mother died last year, I found that running a 2-day notice in the local community paper in the South was $1000. This was a low cost area with a total population less than 5% the size of San Francisco. Shocked by the astonishing price, I estimated what they were taking in annually from death notices, and found that it was probably enough to cover most of their operating expenses.

But there really is no other effective way to get the word out on someone's passing to the community in a timely manner, so the local newspaper has become part of the high-cost for-profit funeral industry, something I had not even suspected.

Re:Huge audience driver? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31889972)

It just seems to me that you'd hear about through means other than... the newspaper. The newspaper is the LAST place I go for news like that.

It's before TV news, at least.

Re:Huge audience driver? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31889574)

Companies read them as well to see if they need to file a claim against an estate for an unpaid bill.

and some folks look for their own Obit (2, Funny)

RobertLTux (260313) | more than 4 years ago | (#31889676)

if they are not in the paper they then continue on their day

Re:Huge audience driver? (1)

mister_playboy (1474163) | more than 4 years ago | (#31890018)

It's actually one of the prime reasons my father purchases a newspaper.

Re:Huge audience driver? (1)

sjames (1099) | more than 4 years ago | (#31890088)

It's called "apartment hunting".

ah, illiterate editors strike again... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31889474)

What the hell is a "relection"?

Re:ah, illiterate editors strike again... (1, Offtopic)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 4 years ago | (#31889540)

For example, George W. Bush was "relected" in 2004.

Re:ah, illiterate editors strike again... (-1, Troll)

freedumb2000 (966222) | more than 4 years ago | (#31889712)

You were looking for "reelection" http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/reelection [merriam-webster.com]
The submitter seems to have trouble with his vowels: It should be "loose" and "loosing".
One really wishes the editors could at least afford to implement a spell checker. Shouldn't be too hard to set up ispell really.

Re:ah, illiterate editors strike again... (1)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 4 years ago | (#31890006)

Nope. I distinctly remember Bush saying he was running for "relection".

Re:ah, illiterate editors strike again... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31889668)

"Did you mean: Reflections Top 2 results shown"
just wanted to make sure it wasn't one of those fancy newspaper vocabulary words.

They'll be pricing themselves out of the market (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31889480)

"...which proposed charging $450 for the one-day run of a crappy-looking, 182-word death notice"

I'm sure a web site would be more than happy to take over their business for, let's say, $45 a day for listing 1820 words, and the web site will still make money at it.

Re:They'll be pricing themselves out of the market (3, Funny)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 4 years ago | (#31889686)

Bah, what do you want a website for that people have to visit themselves? Just pay a Nigerian Spammer $5 and they'll post a death notice to everyone's mailbox!

It doesn't matter (4, Funny)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 4 years ago | (#31889482)

I only believe death notices from Netcraft.

Re:It doesn't matter (1, Insightful)

Arancaytar (966377) | more than 4 years ago | (#31890016)

Well, newspapers are dead - Netcraft just confirmed it.

Does Not Surprise me. (1, Insightful)

puto (533470) | more than 4 years ago | (#31889492)

There is nothing cheap in San Fran other than Chinese food.

Re:Does Not Surprise me. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31890060)

How in ${DIETY}'s name is this a troll? Because he forgot to mention cheap seafood?

Why publish a death notice? (1, Insightful)

Matt Perry (793115) | more than 4 years ago | (#31889506)

Why in the world would someone publish a death notice in the first place? Is it some sort of legal requirement? If not, I don't understand the thought processes that would lead someone to want to do such a thing.

Re:Why publish a death notice? (4, Insightful)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 4 years ago | (#31889622)

Why in the world would someone publish a death notice in the first place? Is it some sort of legal requirement? If not, I don't understand the thought processes that would lead someone to want to do such a thing.

It may be required for estate or other legal purposes. And, as another poster noted, it's traditional and some people expect it. Didn't realize they were so expensive, but dammnit, dying ain't cheap these days. Nothing is.

Re:Why publish a death notice? (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31890044)

A coffin can easily cost as much as a car. I had to help pick one out once for a friend.
They had one 'cheapo' model for $995 that was barely a step up from a wooden box. The rest of the 30 coffin models they had ranged from $3995 to $21,995. Only two models were under $5,000 and they only came in white or brown.
Add in the cost for the cement tomb most cemeteries require around a coffin now ($1500), mortuary expenses of $1200 and various other fees for the death certificate and copies, etc...
You feel better to hear the cemetery plot is only about $500 for a 4'x7' piece of land, until you realize thats $777,857 an acre.
Add in the cost of the actual funeral and you can easily spend $15,000 or more just to die.
Flip side - cremation is still a bargain at $525 plus $50 for the death certificate.

Re:Why publish a death notice? (1)

mirix (1649853) | more than 4 years ago | (#31890336)

I think I'll just request to be buried in my car, in that case. Volkssarg. It's even got AC, and a CD player.

Re:Why publish a death notice? (4, Insightful)

goodmanj (234846) | more than 4 years ago | (#31889684)

Let me set the stage for you. You're an old man. Once, you lived in a "neighborhood", which is a place where you know and hang out with people who live and work next door. But as you got older, you moved away, into a retirement or nursing home.

Then you died. You know thousands of people face-to-face by name, who'd like to know that you're no longer around. How does your family let them know? For this generation, the answer is *not* "Facebook".

I swear, the concept of face-to-face friendship is so foreign to young people today, our society is starting to look like Asimov's "The Naked Sun".

But anyway, any business whose primary profit center comes from people who'll be dead in a few years is in trouble.

Re:Why publish a death notice? (2, Informative)

chaosite (930734) | more than 4 years ago | (#31889806)

Nursing homes?
Funeral houses?
Grave diggers?

They seem to be doing fine...

Re:Why publish a death notice? (1)

h00manist (800926) | more than 4 years ago | (#31889830)

www.facebookdeathnotices.com

Re:Why publish a death notice? (2, Insightful)

Hizonner (38491) | more than 4 years ago | (#31889848)

Your family individually, personally contacts the people they know were close to you. Those people fill in the gaps. No, it's not fun. But it's necessary. I've done it. I'll probably be doing it again in a few years.

If actually know somebody well enough to really care if they've died, it's pretty cold to have to read about it in the newspaper. And it's pretty lazy to use the newspaper as an escape hatch.

The good news is that you can do a lot of it by e-mail. An awful lot of older people use e-mail these days, maybe because they're old and wise enough to realize that correspondence and face to face contact aren't, in fact, mutually exclusive. Maybe they even remember when it was actually hard to travel to see somebody, and you sent, you know, letters...

Anyway, which paper should I publish the notice in, given that all those friends have probably also moved?

Re:Why publish a death notice? (4, Insightful)

ducomputergeek (595742) | more than 4 years ago | (#31889956)

But with everything that happens when someone passes away, it's damn hard to remember everybody and even harder to get ahold of everyone. Especially when you're having to get burial plots, caskets, and all the other stuff that goes on. Especially if the person was highly connected and you had been away for quite some time. I saw it with my mother. She was one of those people who knew a lot of people. I certainly didn't know them all.

Re:Why publish a death notice? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31889860)

Then you died. You know thousands of people face-to-face by name, who'd like to know that you're no longer around. How does your family let them know?

Certainly not in newspapers. I didn't know of anyone who regularly read the death section 30 years ago. I suppose some retired folks may have had the time and will to read it.

But I guess that is normal when you grow up in a city of 500,000 to several million people. I could understand reading the death section if you knew nearly every single person in your town and not just 0.01%.

Re:Why publish a death notice? (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#31889878)

So, the need to propagate such news (from a disposal home) through a newspaper and not by, say, word of mouth...is actually a testament of better face-to-face friendships or relations generally?

Re:Why publish a death notice? (1)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 4 years ago | (#31889928)

Bollocks. When my uncle died, his sons called all the people in his phone book. This way it costs way less than $450 and people won't miss it if they don't happen to read the obituary of the same edition of the same newspaper you happen to choose.

I swear, the concept of face-to-face friendship is so foreign to young people today

[citation needed]

I find that my peers tend to know way more people face-to-face than guys in their 30s when the Internet basically didn't exist here in Portugal. Yes, they may only know personally 1/5 of all their Facebook friends, but that's because they know talk to 250 people instead of 30 like they did.

But I'll get off your lawn.

Re:Why publish a death notice? (1)

Matt Perry (793115) | more than 4 years ago | (#31889996)

Thanks for the followup. My grandfather was in a situation like you described. He was moved to an assisted living home near my parents house, far from where his home used to be. When he passed away, my parent's contacted his old friends and acquaintances from where he lived to let them know and give them the funeral information. I don't know if they published anything in the paper, but I will ask them now. I can't imagine depending on someone reading the paper to know a friend of theirs has died. Contacting the deceased's friends seems like the right thing to do.

Re:Why publish a death notice? (1)

Sir_Lewk (967686) | more than 4 years ago | (#31890022)

I swear, the concept of face-to-face friendship is so foreign to young people today

Huh? How are newspapers "face-to-face" at all? Using a newspaper to notify friends and family of one's death is what is baffling people (including me, seems so impersonal) here...

Re:Why publish a death notice? (1)

/dev/trash (182850) | more than 4 years ago | (#31890300)

So then you can go to the funeral. Which is you know. FACE TO FACE!

Re:Why publish a death notice? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31889800)

It may not mean much now, but it really comes in handy when doing genealogy.

Re:Why publish a death notice? (1)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 4 years ago | (#31889944)

If obituary websites keep their "death databases", it may be even easier in the future. On the other hand, everyone's saying this will a "dark age" in the future...

Re:Why publish a death notice? (1)

dwye (1127395) | more than 4 years ago | (#31890452)

> If obituary websites keep their "death databases", it may be even easier in the future.

They don't. This is why the government keeps these records for as long as possible (well over a century, in some cases, thanks to microfiche). Even if the home town dries up and blows away, the county keeps on, and usually takes over the records of lost towns, villages, etc., as part of any disencorporation process.

Re:Why publish a death notice? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31889874)

Yes

In order to get a passport quickly to fly to a funeral, or to cancel a flight or trip, you often need a clip from a newspaper to proove the death actually happened.

Re:Why publish a death notice? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31890144)

Yes, in many cases it is a legal requirement to publish death of someone to give notice to creditors and debtors to come forward and stake their claims. These notices have to be published for a certain number of days, and if the creditors and debtors do not come forward after a certain number of days after publishing of the notice then they are deemed to forfeit their claims. But i think this is just an archaic assumption by the law that newspapers are widely read and therefore is capable of giving notice to others in a way that is "notorious". i suppose back then, newspapers were like a bulletin board of the community - pretty much everyone reads it or knows someone that will read it.

Re:Why publish a death notice? (1)

C0vardeAn0nim0 (232451) | more than 4 years ago | (#31890154)

so people with whom the deceased lost contact can know what happened and get back in touch with the family

Cost per word (1)

fph il quozientatore (971015) | more than 4 years ago | (#31889578)

If we assume an average of 5 letters per word, that makes 0.5 USD/letter --- I'll no longer think that my SMS plan at 0.1 cents/letter is expensive...

Legacy.com isn't a solution (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31889580)

Legacy.com sucks because their obits are only available for a month or two, and then they extract a fee to see the obit. Legacy is a black hole where information goes down the drain. I suppose it's possible all the newspapers themselves are black holes also because when then go out of business their websites will disappear and all that information will go "poof" and be gone forever. A real problem looming, and obits are just the tip of the iceberg.

Re:Legacy.com isn't a solution (1)

kestasjk (933987) | more than 4 years ago | (#31889980)

Newspapers are archived. Websites are archived.

Re:Legacy.com isn't a solution (1)

The Good Reverend (84440) | more than 4 years ago | (#31890270)

Every major newspaper in the country keeps an archive nowadays, and libraries still, traditionally, keep active subscriptions to local papers. In addition, almost all papers still microfilm their editions, and the papers, some libraries, the LOC (usually), and the microfilming companies themselves all keep copies. It's possible it'll disappear, eventually, but compared to a website like legacy.com, it's solid.

Nerdly Expectations and Requirements (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31889590)

I think posting on the net would be an almost nerdly requirement for slashdotters. "And his services will be held in his home town and on IRC where his computer still has him logged in, even if he hasn't said anything since 1998"

Re:Nerdly Expectations and Requirements (3, Funny)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 4 years ago | (#31889710)

"And his services will be held in his home town and on IRC where his computer still has him logged in, even if he hasn't said anything since 1998"

He's just spending a year or two dead for tax purposes.

Next to go, legal notices (2, Interesting)

Animats (122034) | more than 4 years ago | (#31889612)

Many print newspapers carry "legal notices", of D/B/A names, incorporations, and such. As non-searchable information, that's almost useless. But it's a big profit center for many newspapers, which are fighting to keep it. [74.125.155.132] (Google cache of Michigan Press Association, whose web site is down)

On the other hand, if governments don't require that information to be published, they should maintain the database (which they will have anyway for internal purposes) and offer free access. D/B/A names in the United States are handled at the county level, and that data can be hard to obtain on line. There are commercial services that collect it, expensively. Considering that the amount of data is small by modern standards (all the data for the US will fit on a DVD), it's not a high-cost item.

Re:Next to go, legal notices (2, Informative)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 4 years ago | (#31889828)

I'm amused that the Michigan Press Association used an address in Missouri for their correspondence.

I don't think the cost of that information is about the quantity, it's about having to collect information from 3140 county clerk offices and transcribing them reliably into digital format, or if they are in digital format, converting possibly numerous digital formats into one harmonized format can cost a lot of money.

I've filed for a couple DBAs with the county and an LLC with the state, there wasn't any requirement on my part to publish that information that I've seen, if they are posted somewhere by the respective clerk's offices, then I haven't seen or heard of it.

CraigsDeathList.com (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31889648)

A non-obvious business opportunity. Until fine minutes ago.

Can't they just combine obituaries with some ads (1)

porky_pig_jr (129948) | more than 4 years ago | (#31889680)

thus decreasing the cost.

Something like this: Bozo Mortuary Services: We put "Fun" back to Funerals.

Re:Can't they just combine obituaries with some ad (1)

goodmanj (234846) | more than 4 years ago | (#31889704)

Ever looked at an obit page in a real physical paper? They're full of ads for elderly medical products, retirement communities, etc.

Most papers have more taste than to advertise funeral homes on the same page, but they're definitely taking advantage of this.

Re:Can't they just combine obituaries with some ad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31889988)

no, we put another "F" in funeral

Fun fer al

Ask not for whom the bell tolls... (1)

FrozenGeek (1219968) | more than 4 years ago | (#31889798)

Am I the only one who initially misread the article title as being the obituary for newspapers? Stuff like this only serves to reinforce the expectation that printed newspapers are an endangered species. I wonder when the bailout will happen?

Re:Ask not for whom the bell tolls... (1)

pdabbadabba (720526) | more than 4 years ago | (#31890338)

Even better: I misread this as an obituary for obituaries of newspapers. There has to be some contrarian out there who is writing that newspapers are here to stay...

Your post is an advertisement. Shame on you! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31889814)

As I see it, this post is a publicity of legacy.com!!
The title announces a story about a dying habit (obituaries). But instead it says you can publish yours much cheaper in legacy.com.
Slashdot, what happened!

What about social network sites (2, Interesting)

sourcerror (1718066) | more than 4 years ago | (#31889826)

I thought social network sites are/will be a good solution for this. You don't even have to know the password of the dead one to query his/her friends. (But I guess you could get even the password if you prove the site owners that you're the closest relative of the dead one.)

I used to work for a newspaper that did this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31889842)

I would love it when someone would call in with a death notice or an obituary since I knew it would probably be long winded and we charged by the line and by the section the "ad" would run in. Those prayers that people publish from time to time were great too. I loved those 30 line prayers to saint whoever for whatever blessings they were going for.

My wife already knows that there's no reason to publish anything about me when I die. The important people will know about it already and the rest don't need to know.

They're not alone either (4, Interesting)

c1ay (703047) | more than 4 years ago | (#31889852)

When my wife's father died I got on the phone to try and get her a ticket from Atlanta to Baltimore. At the time I found tickets from $700 - $900 for a same day flight. When I mentioned to one of the airlines the reason for such a sudden need they told me they had a bereavement rate and quoted me $1100. I've not flown with that line since.

Re:They're not alone either (3, Informative)

shovas (1605685) | more than 4 years ago | (#31890446)

I could be wrong, but I swear I've heard of bereavement discounts. A quick google seems to confirm it is usually a discount. Perhaps they were offering you a business or first class ticket thinking you wanted to be nice to your relative.

so long as we mistreat each other while living,... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31889916)

without any notice, what would be the difference when we fail to 'notice' each other leaving here?

you have the right to remain silent.

greed, fear & ego (in any order) are unprecedented evile's primary weapons. those, along with deception & coercion, helps most of us remain (unwittingly?) dependent on its' life0cidal hired goons' agenda. most of our dwindling resources are being squandered on the 'wars', & continuation of the billionerrors stock markup FraUD/pyramid schemes. nobody ever mentions the real long term costs of those debacles in both life & any notion of prosperity for us, or our children. not to mention the abuse of the consciences of those of us who still have one. see you on the other side of it. the lights are coming up all over now. the fairytail is winding down now. let your conscience be our guide. you can be more helpful than you might have imagined. we now have some choices. meanwhile; don't forget to get a little more oxygen on your brain, & look up in the sky from time to time, starting early in the day. there's lots going on up there.

The current rate of extinction is around 10 to 100 times the usual background level, and has been elevated above the background level since the Pleistocene. The current extinction rate is more rapid than in any other extinction event in earth history, and 50% of species could be extinct by the end of this century. While the role of humans is unclear in the longer-term extinction pattern, it is clear that factors such as deforestation, habitat destruction, hunting, the introduction of non-native species, pollution and climate change have reduced biodiversity profoundly.' (wiki)

"I think the bottom line is, what kind of a world do you want to leave for your children," Andrew Smith, a professor in the Arizona State University School of Life Sciences, said in a telephone interview. "How impoverished we would be if we lost 25 percent of the world's mammals," said Smith, one of more than 100 co-authors of the report. "Within our lifetime hundreds of species could be lost as a result of our own actions, a frightening sign of what is happening to the ecosystems where they live," added Julia Marton-Lefevre, IUCN director general. "We must now set clear targets for the future to reverse this trend to ensure that our enduring legacy is not to wipe out many of our closest relatives."

"The wealth of the universe is for me. Every thing is explicable and practical for me .... I am defeated all the time; yet to victory I am born." --emerson

no need to confuse 'religion' with being a spiritual being. our soul purpose here is to care for one another. failing that, we're simply passing through (excess baggage) being distracted/consumed by the guaranteed to fail illusionary trappings of man'kind'. & recently (about 3000 years ago) it was determined that deception, hoarding & excess by a few, resulted in negative consequences for all.

consult with/trust in yOUR creators. providing more than enough of everything for everyone (without any distracting/spiritdead personal gain motives), whilst badtolling unprecedented evile, using an unlimited supply of newclear power, since/until forever. see you there?

"If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land." )one does not need not to agree whois in charge to grasp the notion that there may be some assistance available to us(

boeing, boeing, gone.

let the newspapers die (0, Offtopic)

h00manist (800926) | more than 4 years ago | (#31889918)

Too many lies and too many dead trees. Their own doing -- publishing distorted "facts", servicing minorities in control, misleading the population. Newspapers were always un-elected powers. Rest in peace, let everyone say what they think, and let the trees live on.

Publish it on Slashdot like I did (5, Interesting)

Sam_In_The_Hills (458570) | more than 4 years ago | (#31889968)

http://news.slashdot.org/story/09/09/29/193234/A-Geek-Funeral [slashdot.org] Then 1/4 million views later... http://www.flickr.com/photos/26445696@N04/3961372594/ [flickr.com] everyone knows he passed away. As an added benefit this gives you geek street cred in the afterlife since he's now the top Google response for searchs like "computer urn" or "Geek Funeral" and will probably hold that position for some time.

Re:Publish it on Slashdot like I did (2, Insightful)

rts008 (812749) | more than 4 years ago | (#31890792)

You sir, have my vote as the coolest brother ever!

I don't know how I missed the original /. article, but I just checked both links...OUTSTANDING!

Please accept my belated condolences, as I'm sure you loved him very much to something this neat for him. :-)
I know from experience that you probably encountered resistance from some of the family to pull this off. Glad you stuck to you guns.

I caused an inter-family feud when I scattered my grandfather's ashes at his favorite fishing hole. That was his last request, I promised him it would be done, and it was.
The fallout lasted decades, but I would do it again if required. :-(

Beam me up Scotty. I'm done here.

Nicely done, a truly fitting epitaph for a Geek.

Families Have Driven This Transition (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31889984)

The "market share" for obits and death notices has been shifting to the web for years. This was initially driven by families who disliked the strict formats of newspaper obituaries and wanted to add personal touches to obits. Newspaper have tightly standardized formats for obits, largely to impose discipline on the process of compiling them, which is typically done by staffers who are new or low in the reportorial heirarchy. Online remembrance sites offered the opportunity for family members to create more personal obits, and perhaps more importantly, allowed those who knew the deceased to add their comments and memories. As these sites grew in popularity, newspapers started loosening their obit and death notice formats.

Newspapers missed a huge opportunity by not hooking up with someone like Aldor Solutions [aldorsolutions.com] , which started out making software for funeral directors and later branched out into online remembrance sites and web sites for funeral homes. It turns out the funeral director is the key player in the "death care" business food chain, and Aldor set out to be the technology provider to the funeral directors. I learned about them when I was writing about a dedicated hosting company called Layered Technologies. It turns out some of the principals of Aldor formed LT as the hosting arm of their operations.

A personal experience: I worked for newspapers for 20 years, but was startled by the cost of death notices. Most families have no idea how much these cost because it's often handled by the funeral director and bundled with the larger funeral bill. I handled this personally when a family member passed away, and was just floored at the cost ... about $300 for two newspapers. Death notices remain essential as a way to notify acquaintances who aren't web-savvy of someone's death and the funeral arrangements. But this was another area where newspapers have missed the Internet opportunity.

fix the real problem: death (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31890050)

make me immortal. Soon!

Everybody rips you off when you die (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31890094)

Dying is expensive. A wooden casket costs thousands. The cheapest container a funeral home will sell is a "biodegradable urn" for cremation which is basically a cardboard box and it costs around $200. A proper funeral with a church service, burial, grave site, tombstone etc runs into 5 figures.

Same here in Europe (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31890200)

I live in Finland, one of my parents died some time back and we ended up paying about 700 euro (1000 usd) to run his death notice in two local and small papers (3000 and 7000 readership). Here you also put an ad in the paper for newborns, but what newspapers do is that they charge almost nothing for that since those are considered to draw valuable (=young) readership.

I was hoping something else (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31890322)

would make death notices obsolete...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strategies_for_Engineered_Negligible_Senescence

Re: Newspaper Death Notices May Be a Dying Busines (1)

mswhippingboy (754599) | more than 4 years ago | (#31890414)

I wonder if they'll run this in the Obits column?

Obituaries (Side Story) (2, Interesting)

winphreak (915766) | more than 4 years ago | (#31890596)

I was at a rummage sale looking around, when I spotted a rather spiffy blue briefcase. After purchasing it, I took it home and was loading it with a few things when I noticed a small square of paper. It was the obituary for the person who had owned it before. Talk about creepy.

450 dollar is actually really cheap (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31890752)

I happen to spend two days a week producing death notices. If you would want a reasonable sized notice in a regular dutch newspaper it would cost about 1800 dollar.
Also, it's really not a dying business, not in my country at least (and we do have a fairly high ratio of broadband penetration here). I would estimate around 30% of dead people get a death notice published.

Printed media is dying (2, Insightful)

Illogical Spock (1058270) | more than 4 years ago | (#31890880)

The newspapers are dying in it's today's form, not just the death notice market. I know that it will not happen tomorrow nor in the next 5 years, but it will eventually, as more and more people reads the news on the Internet. And the question here is not just the price (zero x something), but timing. In the past, you would need to wait until the next day to read about some big news in depth, as TV news tend to be just a highlight of the situation. But now? 5 minutes after anything happens you can track the news almost in real time, and not only in your local news sources, but around the world.

The fact is that the Internet is changing every single thing we do, but impacted more extensively in printed materials. The news, the media, the classified ads, the yellow pages, the way we search for restaurants, etc. This is a good thing for sure, but in the process entire businesses will die, people will be unemployed and entire professions will be obsolete, like it happened in the past with cobblers, typewriter repairmen, etc. And then new professions will flourish, and the ones that adapt will be back in the marketing. More of the same, but this time in a much bigger scale.

Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>