No obituaries in the paper? It#039;s been a good week, that#039;s all

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 8, 2003

On Thursday, I received a phone call from a concerned reader.

"How come there are no obituaries in the paper? Did you stop publishing them?"

One of our staff reporters, Teresa Moore, received a similar call. "What happened to the obituaries?" the caller asked. "You are still going to publish them, aren't you?"

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To answer these questions, yes, we are still publishing obituaries. It's been a good week, that's all.

This week alone, we had no deaths to report on Tuesday and Thursday. Two days in one week? That's unheard of.

In almost a decade in the newspaper business, I can only recall two times -- once here at The Tribune a couple of years ago -- when a newspaper was published without at least one death notice.

It has been a slow week, a really slow week. All week (not counting today) we had only 10 deaths to report. Without going back and calculating, I'm guessing we average six or seven obituaries/death notices a day, so this week has been great.

Obituaries are among the research items most frequently sought from The Tribune, particularly from out-of-town friends and relatives. We receive calls from a lot of folks asking how to find obituaries online. Obituaries are an important part of our newspaper, and always will be.

Truly, obituaries are an important part of any newspaper. In fact,

journalistic shorthand for the three circumstances under which ordinary people's names appear in the newspaper are hatch, match and dispatch -- when they are born, when they marry and when they die.

The Readership Institute’s Impact study of readership shows that obituaries — along with community announcements and stories about ordinary people — have the highest potential of all news items to grow readership.

An obituary often serves as a last public acknowledgement of a life. We want to make sure that person's family and friends have a keepsake -- something tangible by which to remember him or her.

People die. That is just a fact of life. And, even though we hope we do not have to put many obituaries in our newspaper, we will continue to do so out of respect for our residents.

Actually, I hope we see many more weeks like this one in the future. That means our readers and our neighbors are still around.

Shawn Doyle is managing editor of The Ironton Tribune. He can be reached at (740) 532-1445 ext. 19 or by e-mail to