For a devotee of the obituary
January 10, 2010 9:26 PM   Subscribe

How best to suggest an obituary to the NYTimes?

And a sub-question... is this gauche? or even done?

I would like to, at least, suggest to the NYTimes that they consider a recently deceased person for an obituary. How does one go about doing that? I'm not asking about the paid death notices, rather the true obituary for those semi-demi-remarkable lives that have ended.

The person in question has, what I and the Chicago Tribune believe, enough participation in events of historical moment (i.e. the Nuremberg trials) to merit a write up. So it's not simply hagiography and grief driving me to ask... rather I would just like to know how to gently direct their attention to a life that may be worthy of an obit.

That the obit editorial staff may deem him insufficiently remarkable is okay by me, but I still would like to have asked.
posted by Cold Lurkey to Computers & Internet (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Obituaries: To suggest a news Obituary, please call (212) 556-1180 or fax to (212) 556-1024. If you prefer, you may send an e-mail to:
posted by embrangled at 9:42 PM on January 10, 2010

Best answer: To personalize it a bit, the NYT obit editor is Bill McDonald. He answered a question about who gets NYT obits in the public editor's column a few years ago:

Our process is to consider every request made, without exception. If we’re not familiar with an individual, we look at what may have been written about him or her, culling from our own files and a number of other independent sources.

So, yes, it's done, and expected. There's also an obit writer, Bruce Weber, listed on the staff page, and there's a link to email him here.
posted by mediareport at 9:47 PM on January 10, 2010

As to the sub-question, no, it's not guache at all. I've answered similar calls to the newsroom from friends, relatives, and in one case, the deceased man's undertaker. I've even received calls which 'preview' obituaries - relatives contact the newsroom when it becomes clear their well-known loved one is about to die.

Call as soon as you can - if the Chicago Times has already published an obit, it won't be long before the NYT starts to consider the person's death 'old news'. Give the two or three main reasons why the person merits remembrance - don't try tell his whole life story in one call. The reporter might ask you to suggest friends, family and or colleagues who are willing to be interviewed.

I'm sorry for your loss.
posted by embrangled at 10:00 PM on January 10, 2010

Around this time of year delays occur. My father died Christmas day a few years ago and his NYT obituary did not appear until January 13th although I contacted them via e-mail on about 12/27. During a follow-up call the writer who covered his death (no longer with the paper) told me that the obituary staff, to some extent, specialized. The delay stemmed, in part from coincidence: the guy who handled science, my father's field, had been busy covering other deaths. Don't give up.
posted by carmicha at 10:28 PM on January 10, 2010

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