At the end of the day, the NY Times votes on “who is an important person” when it chooses who earns an obituary. Â Today, the Public Editor writes about the Times’ hard choices. Â As an academic, I have been surprised that academics appear to be greatly over-represented in the obituary pool. Â Is it because we are more likely to die than other people?
When I was a kid, my class visited the NY Times headquarters. Â Our tour guide pulled out the already written obituary of a famous living baseball player. I was shocked!
Obituaries and autobiographies must be positively correlated.
The Style Section of today’s NY Times has a long piece about what Harvard’s graduates write about themselves as they age. Â To quote the article; “Â This trance-inducing volume, a facebook that came before Facebook, consists of dispatches from graduates who have chosen to file and have evaded the terse message â€œlast known address,â€ â€œaddress unknownâ€ or (it doesnâ€™t get terser) â€œdied.â€ Â The information includes the biographical basics â€” address, e-mail, occupation, spouse, children â€” and an account of their lives, often true, over the last half-decade.”