By Steve Outing
Steve Yelvington blog-mused: “Are obituaries obsolete?” He argues that newspapers should have “living documents” cataloging and documenting people’s lives on an ongoing basis, rather than an obituary published just at the person’s death.
I want to take a slightly different angle. Many newspapers pre-write obituaries of notable people in their communities. Some staff journalist or perhaps a librarian is charged with writing or updating a canned obituary when a local big-wig goes into the hospital, for instance, so it can be pulled out when the time comes.
But why bother with that task at all? An argument can be made that when Mr/Ms Whomever checks out of the planet, the information about his/her life is but a Google- or Wikipedia-search away. Instead of writing an original obit, a link obit just may be a better way to present a notable life.
The modern obit writer may serve the subject better by amassing a collection of suitable links: to a biography, video interviews, best writings, most famous quotes, etc. Yelvington may be right: The traditional obituary is already in the grave.