In a recent blog Alan D Mutter wrote about the increasing costs of publishing death notices. When he learned that a friend's simple 182 word death notice cost $450 to publish, Alan and the widow decided to place the money in college funds instead.
Rob Cibik in his alt.obituaries column references Mutter's column stating that expensive newspaper death notices take advantage of grieving families who are not in the mood to hunt for a bargain. So, funeral homes typically itemize the notices in the much bigger price tag for the funeral.
A study at the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University last year found that obits were the third most popular topic searched at the Chicago Tribune. The size of the Baby Boomer generation suggests that interest in obituaries will increase for decades.
However, if obituaries become too costly, more and more families will opt out or publish a brief death notice. This cost factor could be risky to local newspapers, because they may begin losing a sizable percentage of readership.
Death notices are also a major loss to family and local historians. While death notices inform family and friends of the death event, they lack the details that define the individual and the community in which they lived.
For more information on obituaries contact your local Springfield-Greene County Library. The Library Center and Library Station have indexed collections of Springfield, Mo. newspaper obituaries.
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