Who Gets an Obituary in the Miami Herald?

The following was posted on the Miami Herald internal messageboard, Readme, by columnist and critic Glenn Garvin. It's about the newspaper's lack of coverage on the passing of Herald veteran Margaret Carroll. Garvin's words speak for themselves (powerfully). But the issue does have some personal relevance for me. Put it this way: I'm glad the Courier-Journal gave my dad his day, and believe Carroll deserves the same.


Three weeks ago, my... our... good friend Margaret Carroll died. Margaret worked at the Miami Herald, I believe, 44 years. (Update: That's correct.)

Maggie started at the Herald in January 1964... (That is, she got here before the Beatles did.) She wasn't a big political mover and shaker, because working in a newsroom makes that impossible, but she was a funny and interesting character who as a reporter covered some big stories... among them, the trial of a group of Miami mercenaries who bombed Papa Doc Duvalier's presidential palace in Haiti... and whose career as an editor spanned from the era of pastepots and cries of "Copy!'' to the time of pagination and the web. I've no doubt a reporter who spent couple of hours on the phone or even walked around the newsroom talking to Maggie's pals would have come up with a string of fascinating and hilarious stories about her. 

But that didn't happen... Maggie didn't get a Herald obituary. Somehow she was deemed less worthy than a sportswriter who spent 60 years at a newspaper in Huntington, West Virginia; the security director of the Detroit Lions; and a retired photo editor of the Associated Press who lived in Pawley, Pennsylvania, all of whom had obits in Sunday's paper. None of those individuals, so far as I know, ever lived within a thousand miles of South Florida, and if there was anything innately fascinating or broadly significant about them, it was certainly not apparent from their obituaries.

So can someone please explain who gets an obituary and why? Why do we reward employee loyalty to the Huntington Herald Dispatch or the Associated Press more highly than loyalty to our own? What is so damn riveting about being security director of the Detroit Lions? These are not rhetorical questions, and I don't think I'm the only one in the newsroom who would like to hear the answers. Can whatever member or members of newsroom management who are setting these policies and making these decisions explain them?

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