24 January 2013

Newspaper obituaries can be expensive

My parents passed in 2010, three months apart. My dad's obit was $1,100 and my mom's $900. And this was in a small coastal New England city of about 30K. We also placed the obits online. It was free and there was a comment option. You had the choice of keeping the comments up for free for 90 days, or longer for a price.
I actually didn't know they cost money; I didn't write one for my father's death and don't plan to do so for my mom's.  And when I die, I don't expect anything to be written in the local paper.  Maybe a final blog post, though...

14 comments:

  1. I just discovered this myself recently.

    My Father passed away 2 months ago, and I wanted to placed a small obituary in his local small town (population 7000) newspaper.

    I was told it would cost me $200 for a text-only obituary, and $350 for one that included a photo.

    Completely ridiculous, and when I said so, the clerk said, "that's what life insurance is for".

    The greed of that little newspaper makes me ill (my dad did not have life insurance, and I chose not to place an obit).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Did you tell the clerk that life insurance was probably not meant to pay for an obit??? They ought to be free or minimal cost.

      Delete
  2. I may not like it, but I understand the newspaper's position. Times are tough for publishers, even with the dual revenue streams of circulation and ad sales. Circulation is dropping precipitously; ad rates reflect that. Obits eat up a lot of space that could be used for ad space or news hole. So it becomes a toss-up: are obits news, or are they some kind of weird ad? Used to be no question, of course, obituaries were news, and genealogists have depended of them nearly as long.

    perhaps it's no longer necessary to physically publish this information. After all, the same information streams that are killing newspapers are available to publish electronics obits, and the funeral industry has already found a to monetize them. FWIW, my father's obit, a few column inches 4 years ago and handled through the lawyer closing his estate, was -- as I recall -- $180 to the funeral home on top of the $1100 for cremation. Wonder what the paper got.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Some states require death notification.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I think most papers post notifications of death, but if a family member wants to write a detailed obituary, yes, they charge for it. When a friend mentioned how much she paid to post an obituary for her father, I expressed shock. She stopped me short with "It was worth it. He was an incredible man, and I want people to know that."

    ReplyDelete
  5. My family had lived in Wichita, KS for generations. Both my grandfathers were prominent in the area -- one of my grandfathers had the first movie theater and the first gas station in the city and was active in politics. My other grandfather developed property, played the organ for the choir at St. Mary's Cathedral, and built several huge buildings in the city. However, my branch of the family moved to another state and successfully started a large business there. When my parents died, within 9 years of each other, obits were written and published in their local newspaper, but not in Wichita where each of them had grown up and had many friends. It was all because the persons who handled the funeral details never thought to have the obits published in Wichita. And, as those persons also were computer illiterate, there was nothing on-line.

    This brings me to point out several things. Yes, newspapers are shutting down -- so people will no longer open the paper and say, "Oh, I see where John Doe died last week." No, no one is going to check on-line every day or every week to Google all their friends and acquaintances to see if they have died yet. So, no one will know that you have died unless you were an especially close friend AND SOMEONE IN THE FAMILY KNOWS YOU WERE A CLOSE FRIEND and notifies you.

    And another thing has changed: a lot of people only use their cell-phones and no longer have a land-line. So how do you call up someone? They aren't listed in the telephone book and their numbers are not found online either.

    So, while people in some senses are more accessible, others are not.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good point. Somebody will make a fortune creating this service online.

      Delete
  6. We had a minimal obit published for my wife's 88-yr-old aunt because we were persuaded that her friends, whom we didn't know, went through the paper every day to see who'd died since yesterday's tea time. This turned out to be correct. (The aunt was from Baltimore; we'd placed her in a nursing home in another, much smaller town far away, but close to where we live.) The Baltimore Sun charged us $300; the local paper didn't charge us anything. My wife and I decided long ago that paid obits are nonsense; if people feel better for having paid for them, fine, but they're not for us. BTW the funeral home offered us a $500 package that included an online memorial guaranteed to be up for 300 years. Good Lord. Did we look that stupid?

    ReplyDelete
  7. Our newspaper does not charge for obituaries or photos. If the obit is very lengthy we charge $25, however, most people are fine with the free ones that the funeral homes send over. When people call from out-of-state, they are usually shocked that we dont charge excess of $200.
    Also, most obituaries are not sent from funeral homes before the funeral , so it is rare that it would be published in time for people to know to attend the services.
    I believe funeral homes are charging more to delay the services and that also makes it hard for everyone to be notified in time to attend.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Sad, isn't it, that many of us have scattered all over the country from our home towns, whether for education or in search of work and have lost touch with other family members and friends? We think we are more in touch since we have the internet, free long-distance calling, Facebook and Twitter, but we're all too busy driving the kids to soccer practice or piano lessons, working unpaid overtime to hang on to our jobs or working a second job to make ends meet... We delude ourselves that we are the most "in-touch" generation, but actually we are no better "in touch" than our pioneer forefathers. At least we still have mail service, at least for the time being.

    I wonder how I would go about gathering the information to produce a telephone book for cell-phones... hmmmmmmmmmm!

    ReplyDelete
  9. I am currently in the end stages of Uterine Cancer and I contacted my local Newspaper the Cape Cod Times about the cost of an Obit. I was told it was about $31 dollars for a column inch which was about 6 lines of type. The average cost the man told me would be about $300 bucks and up. YIKES, but I have set aside the moola to pay for it as I consider it the last time I get to blow my own horn so to speak.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I would hope that we get a last post here. I would worry if you vanished.

    ReplyDelete
  11. We live in San Diego county and were shocked when the UT (now the only major newspaper in town) told us an amount of over $1100 price tag for my father's obit! It did include a small photo but this obit cost $400 more than his cremation did! What a racket! I believe that there should be a fee, but let's be reasonable.

    ReplyDelete
  12. I also am dealing with the San Diego UT and was shocked by the quote of the short death notice we wanted to put in. We personally do not feel the need to do it but are being pressured by the rest of his family and friends. Sadly no money was put aside in his trust to cover these costs and now we are having to not pay bills just to put my husbands dad to rest in a way that the family and friends are comfortable with.

    ReplyDelete

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...