One of the most read features in a newspaper? Obituaries.
Getting information correct in obituaries is critical. For one thing, we’re dealing with people who are grieving, so an error can sometimes be a lightning rod for those people’s anger, frustration, depression and can lead to hurt feelings and bitterness for years. The memory of a loved one’s death should never be forever peppered with a hurtful error in a death notice.
We make a point of being extraordinarily careful with suspicious names, dates, places. For example, if we receive a death notice fax that includes a surviving brother with an unusual spelling, for example, Tomas instead of Thomas, we call the funeral home of origin and check that name.
We constantly check spellings of small towns we’re unfamiliar with. Maybe 2 in 10 of our inquiries lead to a correction before publication, and those constant calls can drive our news clerk bananas. But in the long run, it serves the public better.
We have a more liberal policy on obituaries than most newspapers; we include more types of information than most and don’t charge any fees. The industry trend is to charge customers for publishing that information.
We have a good policy. Some might think including items such as surviving pets or ALL names for surviving grandchildren is a bit too much.
We hope to foster a feeling of kindness and goodwill with our policy and hope our readers understand that, when we err, we realize the hurt it can cause and take reasonable steps to ensure accuracy.