Rest in Peace … for $20

by Roger Pynn

There was an old saying when I was young … “everyone gets their name in the paper at least three times in their life:  when they are born, when they get married and when they die.”

But most of us know that over the years that has changed as papers long ago stopped printing birth notices and wedding announcements.

Until a week ago you could still turn to the inside back pages of the local news section in our newspaper and read a list of deaths … the name, age and city of each person … grouped by county throughout Central Florida under a longstanding banner “Deaths in Central Florida” (see below) that has long appeared just to the left of paid “Obituaries, Services, Memorials.”

Deaths in Central FL1-001

The last few mornings, however, I’ve encountered what may be for me the most telling indication of the decline of newspapers.  The Orlando Sentinel appeared to no longer be publishing death notices, opting instead to fill the space where it had traditionally listed those who had passed away with other news stories, such as the one below.

Bradenton Herald Article1-001

Then one week later the ad below appeared suggesting that the “news” of someone’s passing is now generously being mingled with the paid notices placed by survivors.

Effective Last Wednesday1-001

“We just wanted everyone to have the same respect.  We’d heard from a lot of people who thought it was kind of like the haves vs. the have nots,” said the person who answered the phone for Pamela Davis in the newspaper’s advertising sales organization, where callers are directed.  “It is entirely up to the funeral home whether they charge or not.  It is just $20 and we are giving them more than before.”

“People are not happy about it,” said a person at one of Orlando’s oldest funeral homes, but confirmed that the company has no intention of paying the bill for something that had previously been free.  “We take the family’s credit card so they can be billed directly by the Sentinel.”

So, now, only if survivors pay (or some funeral home absorbs the cost) will we know if someone has passed away.  It used to be that the daily listing of deaths also appeared on the paper’s website, as well.  Not now … unless, of course, an ad has been purchased.

I’m a capitalist through-and-through and God knows I want my local paper to make money because otherwise I’ll have nothing to pick up on my driveway at 6 a.m. every day.  But it seems a shame.  If newspapers have any public service role left, beyond the weather report, this would certainly have seemed a logical choice to top the list.

Some good news … the above story about the drunken druggie didn’t appear to make it on the Sentinel’s website, either.

4 Responses to Rest in Peace … for $20

  1. […] I heard from a lot of folks about a post I wrote August 15 – friends emailed and commented on social media such as Facebook with emotions ranging from sad to furious when the Orlando Sentinel stopped treating local deaths as news. […]

  2. But, to be in love and bonding in every era is the same.
    The attain net internet websites existing you aided with all the needed laptop or computer system software package bundle to obtain films at break-neck speeds.
    Glue a toothpick on the back and stick each
    photo into individual cupcakes. “Mayabazaars” scrumptiously hilarious wordings scripts out multi-cuisine
    food-specialties in humorous punches that are
    supposed to evoke heavy dosages of laughter in its animation display.
    Impressed by what he sees, Braun takes the trouble to find this talented kid, who then flies out
    to Atlanta to record demo tapes.

  3. Google says:

    Hi, this weekend is nice in favor of me, as
    this time i am reading this fantastic educational paragraph here at my
    home.

  4. logicalconie says:

    My spouse and I absolutely love your blog and find most of your post’s to be precisely
    what I’m looking for. Do you offer guest writers to write content for you personally?
    I wouldn’t mind publishing a post or elaborating
    on a lot of the subjects you write with regards to here.

    Again, awesome web log!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: