Friday, June 19, 2009

$300 for an obituary?! (updated)

A reader emailed to report the Sacramento Bee charged him $300 a day to place an obituary in the paper which ran for several days.

Wow, that seems high -- are obituaries now a profit center for newspapers?

If you have info on what other papers are charging for obituaries, leave it in comments.

Update: The reader emailed with price comparisons:
Sacramento Bee $300 a day
Fresno Bee $700 a day
S.F. Chronicle $528 a day

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34 comments:

Anonymous said...

Oh, yeah. Obits are probably the one last ad monopoly that newspapers have. I heard once that my paper had a full-column obit with photo for almost $1,500. It's almost sad, considering funerals are outrageously expensive to begin with.

Someone needs to break that monopoly, too. But since MNI is in cahoots with Legacy.com, the national obits service, that's probably unlikely.

Anonymous said...

If you work for a newspaper, why are you against trying to make a profit? Sometimes the idiocy on this blog is mind-boggling. This is nothing new, charging for obits. We've been doing it for over 15 years. We also offer a free version. We're not forcing anyone to pay for an obit but it does allow the family to have a wide latitude to say something about the deceased.

Anonymous said...

The SucBee offers endless articles on ways to cut costs in these hard times. How about they drop their price for obits? Or, apply the ability to pay scale they trumpet for the downtrodden? Let the rich pay the freight for everyone. What? The ‘punch drunk’ NĂ˜bama has thought of that already. No shit?

Anonymous said...

Obituary revenue helps pay salaries. Why would anyone in the newspaper game be opposed to this? it is a business, this newspaper thing.

Anonymous said...

The whole obituary thing is becoming a thing of the past. Family members know, churches pray for their deceased members, famous members of the community rate TV news. I know no one that thinks reading the obituaries is a daily must read, except old people hoping not to see their names! You find one young person reading the obits, and I would be surprised. Old timey habit, folks, old timey habit. A $1500 obit? It’s like buying a $10,000 casket, to make up for ignoring your old granny for twenty years, IMO.

Anonymous said...

Overcharging for obits is ghoulish.

Anonymous said...

Good for MNI. Like true Marxists, kick em when their down to raise stealth bucks. M-Watch, thanks for shedding light on this issue!

And since family’s prints obits infrequently, MNI can stealth-fully charge whatever they wish.

An entrepreneurial Craigslist business model will put and end to this, but only after the State goes bankrupt and the unions loose their last legislative pull.

Until then, like universal healthcare, congress is EXEMPT

Anonymous said...

MNI BAGS A TWO-FER

1. They screw the dead guy's family
2. They tip the DNC to register the dead guy as a democrat who votes union for the next 20 years.

John Altevogt said...

Rather ironic, the dying fleecing the dead.

Anonymous said...

I have no problem with allowing family tributes for Obits. Makes more sense than a 'lifetime guaranteed' coffin. Obits are a service just like flowers and music for the service. Neither are required. A nice, well padded weather proof coffin makes no sense, you are freaking dead. Ken

Anonymous said...

It is probably getting near the time to write the ‘Mother’ of all obituaries, the one for the SacRagBee. The possibilities for their comedy obit is endless. Perhaps Dave Letterman can give us some comedy tips.

Anonymous said...

...Death and Taxes...
It's sad trying to use death to pump life into a leaking life raft...
How much do they make on legals...another captive audience!

Anonymous said...

The disparity has nothing to do with family tributes! The fact is that there is no accounting for the disparity between the Fresno Bee and the Sacramento Bee. Literally moe than double. Does cirulation account for it - I doubt it!

Family in friends look to the obituary columns to be informed as to the death of someone they have known.

I recently had to arrange a funeral and the highest cost of a casket was under $6,000.00.

Compare that to the cost of running the obituary of the reader in three newspapers - $1,500.00!!!

Anonymous said...

What nobody has pointed out is the price of the obituary is dependent upon its length. Several years ago, I paid much more than $300 for my grandmother's obit to run in a midsized daily in Colorado.

Most papers provide free death notices, then the families have the choice of running a longer obituary.

The key word here is "choice."

Anonymous said...

I dont mind that they charge for obits, but I think they charge way to much. My Stepfather had been a carrier for the KC Star for 20 years when he died. My mother went and did the route by herself that night. You would think they might have at least gave us a small discount on the obit, but no, full price. I know we choose to be carriers, but you would think they would appreciate us just a little, but they dont. A card would have even been nice.

Anonymous said...

You are right; an obit is a choice. Running a fairly long one for several days for $300 seems like a bargain to me if that what floats the family boat! Some of you are really ignorant. This is NOT a McClatchy thing, you idiots! This is the nature of the beast and it started 15-20 years ago!!! No one has a gun to anyone's head to pay a lot for a notice. Again, it's choice!

Anonymous said...

9:36 Right Sport (wink, wink).

Get back to us when your in the market for an obit, and tell us how you gladly spent $3,000 for a 10 day run.

Anonymous said...

7:48 John, nice succinct quote!

Anonymous said...

U Wing Nuts on the right bitch about the government's intrusion into free enterprise but when newspapers exercices their right you bitch again. There's alot of constipation on this blog.
And besides how is the Sacbee going to pay for all of that ice cream we were rewarded with yesterday for being good soldiers?

Anonymous said...

You'd think some smart biz person would launch obit.com and charge half what newspapers charge.

Anonymous said...

Can anyone explain to me why the Fresno Bee charges over $700.00 for the same obituary that runs in the Sacramento Bee?

This is the real question!

Anonymous said...

Can anyone explain to me why the Fresno Bee charges over $700.00 for the same obituary that runs in the Sacramento Bee at $300.00?

As a right wing nut, I know that the Bee is similar to other left wing nut run organizations. They think a doubling of subscription rates, or advertising rates doubles income!

It just ain't so ......

Anonymous said...

Now doggone it 11:56. Say it ain't so.

Anonymous said...

Actually, paid obituaries are the best thing for grieving families. Here's why: Back when newspapers ran them for free, only very basic "facts only" obits were printed, with no room for anything personal.

I know that's true, because early in my career I used to "write" the obits. The rules were so strict about what got in and what didn't that there was no space for stuff like hobbies or the names of grandchildren or a "significant other" who survived the person who died.

So now families can write whatever they want, and the result is wonderful. Obituaries have become some of the best parts of newspapers. There are lots of photos, too.

I wrote (and paid for) both my parents' obits, plus several aunts and uncles.

And compared to what mortuaries charge for every little thing, the paid obit is a bargain.

Anonymous said...

Re: “Actually, paid obituaries are the best thing for grieving families.”
----------
If reading a bunch of stuff your grieving family should already know makes you feel so much better, then why stop at $300? Why, $1000 dollars worth of flowery tributes would show everyone in town how much you loved your parents. Maybe they didn’t know that. I say, take the free obit, and give the money to the living, in honor of your loved one. Useless words written after death, and more than likely words not spoken while the loved one lived, sounds like conscience cleansing to me.

Anonymous said...

Here is some advice.... Take the 300-700 bucks and spend it on those loved ones while they are still alive. The old timers or sick folk would appreciate it more.

Anonymous said...

Ok, I have to put my two cents in here. I think the obits are for the mourning, living, people. I know when my 25 year old son was killed, I wanted everyone to know who he was and how wonderful of a person he was. He knew how much I loved him when he was alive, but I wanted the whole world to know that a wonderful son and father had just left this world. I think thats why people buy the big, expensive obits, for themselves. It made me feel better that someone might read the obit, and think of my son.

Anonymous said...

Anon 7:04 I am deeply sorry for your loss.

And because of your post, though of course I didn't know your Son, I am thinking of him right now.

Anonymous said...

Here in Miami, obits are free of charge when the employee or an immediate family member of an employee dies. I also know the Newsroom is always looking for interesting "life stories" to tell in news coverage the local section, too. They did a terrific writeup on the father of a friend of mine -- he'd been a revolutionary in Hungary who escaped across the Iron Curtain on a motorcycle with his wife and infant son.

Classified obits are paid linage and yes, Classified is expensive, and yes, those rates are set by circulation. Although it is not unheard of for newspapers that are trying to build VOLUME to discount well-read advertising features to bring more eyes to the newspaper. I'll bet that's causing the Sac/Fresno Bee discrepancy.

Usually, paid obits are placed by the funeral home and are part of the overall services they provide and the cost is built into the bill. Pinching pennies is hard when you're arranging a funeral.

I think the person who said he was happy to pay for the tribute to his son was right. The value of some things -- like offering public tribute to a loved one --transcends the monetary cost. And I don't think that newspapers are taking unfair advantage, either. It's just the way things are.

Anonymous said...

Anon. 9:41.... Thank You!!!!

Anonymous said...

well, YES, obits are profit centers. So are weddings. check out what the papers charge for that.

Duh.

Ronald Ulrich said...

My father passed recently and to place an 8.75" obit was 90$. He lived in Fresno for over 93 years and had the paper delivered. Any consideration for Fresno natives. Robbery after death. Another paper 300 in the Bay Area.

Ronald Ulrich said...

My father passed recently and to place an 8.75" obit was 90$. A Fresno native for over 93 years and had the paper delivered. Any consideration for Fresno natives. Robbery after death. Another paper 300 in the Bay Area.

Shobhana Rishi said...

The rate for obits varies per line from $5-12. The length determines the cost. Like everything else in life you have to live within your budget. Family members can all pitch in to make it affordable. We just ran an obituary for my father in the Atlanta Journal with photo for $586. I could not have paid for it alone but sisters sharing the cost made it doable. And yes, we all were surprised at how much it cost at first but the process of writing it together and sharing cost helped us grieve....And it is not everyday that you have the chance to say something about your father. By the way funeral home websites can also post for free. I say let newspapers stay in business.