Every day, there’s someone in the library looking for an obituary. Sometimes they want an obituary for a family member or a friend. Sometimes they're trying to find an ancestor’s obit. But they always want one with facts about that person and their life.
An obituary is the last record of a person’s existence. It’s a summary of who they were and what they did. Obituaries are short, and a lot of information has to fit into that small amount of space. There’s a lot of pressure to get an obituary right.
The New York Times has a department that writes obituaries. Since they’re a national newspaper, their obits are about important and famous people, which means that the burden to make an obit good is even greater.
Times writers have less than 1,000 words to sum up what made a someone significant, and they have very little time to write the obit. When someone dies, the public expects to learn about it very quickly.
Obit. takes you behind the scenes to meet the writers of New York Times obituary writers. Like all journalists, they’re a funny bunch—both because they’re humorous people and because they see life differently from the rest of us.
Hanging out with journalists can be a lot of fun, and Obit. is a great way to spend time with some unique people with a really interesting job.
Watch it on Kanopy.