State of the American Obituary report

As many of you are probably aware, I’ve spent the last couple of months working on the Interactive Innovation Project for Fall 2009.  This is the capstone project of my year at Medill.

The project has been about obituaries in print and online, and about how obituaries drive readership to local media outlets.

One of the two major pieces of the project was to produce a report on the state of obituaries in America these days.  I had a pretty large hand in this aspect of the project, as I was one of the primary authors of the report.  I’m happy to say that today, that report has been released.

From the blog about the project:

“To better understand the nature of our project and the role of in today’s obituary publishing industry, the Fall 2009 Interactive Innovation Project team at the Medill School of Journalism has been diligently researching the history and trends of American obituary writing. We have summarized our findings in a report that we have released this morning. In this report, we examine the nature of the contemporary American obituary, a phenomenon that constitutes an important content category for modern newspapers – and, increasingly, for publishers in other media.”

Read the full post here.

Download the report (PDF).

UPDATE: Oh, hey, look at this — we got a mention on the Washington Post Post Mortem blog!

UPDATE 2: Another mention, from an Editor & Publisher blog!

UPDATE 3: An article about the report appeared in the Vancouver Sun.

UPDATE 4 (12/8/2009): A story about the report appeared on the Northwestern University website.  We also got a link from Romenesko on

UPDATE 5 (12/11/2009): The AP wrote a story about the report, mentioning me by name.  That AP story has gotten republished all over, and even ended up on NPR’s Morning Edition.  Today, Michael S. Malone did an opinion piece for ABC News, which also mentions our report prominently.  Another article on  Oh, hey, look at this!  My buddy Jeff Billman wrote it up for a blog on the Philadelphia City Paper.  Here’s another article on