The single most important thing any journalist will ever write is the obit story. It can also be one of the most difficult.
I know. I’ve written my share of them in my career. Some of them were for people I didn’t know well, but who were well-known in the community, and some of them were for people I knew well, but who weren’t so well-known. Despite the difference in intimacy and familiarity, I sweated each and every one of them; I obsessed over each detail and quote. I didn’t want to get a thing wrong. I wanted them to read just so. I wanted to pay my respects.
There are a few on The Livingston Post that illustrate how different these stories can be. Two are by Buddy Moorehouse. In one, he remembers his college friend Drew Sharp, and in another he pays his respects to Dane Russell, an autistic man who found a wonderful home in the community.
Another is something I wrote after my friend Sandy Everly died.
Tim Robinson wrote a wonderful piece after the death of Brighton swim coach Tim McInnis.
Stan Latreille paid his respects to Bucilla Carroll in this lovely piece.
So it seems fitting that The Livingston Post is sponsoring the showing of “Obit,” a documentary about the obituary team at The New York Times. The film, which has won all sorts of awards, has been called a “celebration of life.” I am excited to see it.
What the NYT team does is different in ways from what we community journalists do: their subjects are the celebrities, luminaries, icons and leaders across the world, and they have a morgue of information from which to draw.
We write about locals who’ve touched our lives in various ways.
But in the end, it’s still the same.
We pay our respects.
I’ve got some tickets to give away. If you’d like to see “Obit” at the wonderful Howell Theater, comment below and I’ll get some your way.
Showtimes are 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. Friday, May 26; Saturday, May 27; Sunday, May 28; Tuesday, May 30; Wednesday, May 31; and Thursday, June 1.