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Funeral coverage

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by huntsie, Sep 14, 2007.

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  1. huntsie

    huntsie Active Member

    To set the scene:
    Four 16 year old boys killed in a car accident on the weekend in a nearby community. This is coverage of the funeral which was the headline story, by a senior reporter on the staff. I've deleted his byline.
    I have my own opinions on the story but I won't offer them right now.
    Wonder what the consensus is:

    Published Thursday September 13th, 2007
    Appeared on page A1
    Overflowing crowds, a gentle late-summer breeze and a river of tears marked a day of mourning in Moncton yesterday for three of four teenaged boys killed Saturday in one of the worst traffic accident accidents here in recent memory.


    Besides family members, teachers and hundreds of fellow students and athletic team members from the Moncton area, people from all over the Maritime provinces gathered here to remember the lives of the four 16-year-olds which, while tragically short, were characterized by music, athletic endeavour, a sense of fun and love for family and friends.

    All of these things were remarked upon in beautifully rendered eulogies over the course of a long day, beginning with a late-morning memorial service for Brandon Murray Gregory Hupman at the Ferguson Knowles Funeral Home on North Mountain Road.

    Funeral services for James (Jimmy) Gillett St. Clair Dunphy followed in the early afternoon at St. Augustine's Roman Catholic Church further south on Mountain Road.

    A late afternoon service was held for Jared Crawford Storey at the Wesleyan Memorial United Church on Cameron Street in the downtown.

    Teachers and students from Harrison Trimble High School -- all four boys attended the Moncton school -- are also travelling to Beresford near Bathurst today for the funeral of Corey Doucet, whose family had moved from the northern New Brunswick community to the city several years ago.

    As to an accounting of this day's proceedings there is no reason to give any particular order to them, any more than there seems, at times such as this, to be any particular order or reason to the universe.

    Yet even the hardest heart among us might also believe, at times such as this, that there is more and better for us all beyond this vale of tears and that the trail to that place is marked by the lives we live, brief though they all may be.

    If awkwardly rendered, this might yet stand as the consistent message delivered yesterday on behalf of Brandon by Rev. Jim McDonald, on behalf of Jimmy by Father Allison Carroll and on behalf of Jared by Rev. Paul Cummings.

    Indeed, many moments captured the spirit of these three boys yesterday, but it is only possible to start with one so let it be the wonderful choice of Amazing Grace as the opening song for Jared Storey's service.

    While the song as traditionally rendered has been used so often it has become something of an old chestnut over the years, this time only the lyrics were used, and sung to the tune of the traditional folk song House of the Rising Sun.

    With presiding pastor Rev. Philip Griffin-Allwood accompanying on guitar and the church choir leading the way, many sitting in the packed pews, standing in aisles and spilling out the door sang along.

    It was sombre and dignified and moving and yet, just beneath the surface it seemed also as if there danced a wicked sense of humour -- something reminiscent of The Simpsons episode in which Bart slips the music for Iron Butterfly's In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida onto the church organist's music stand.

    But if the music seemed to capture the boy's spirit, it was eulogist Joe Daley, one of the boy's athletic coaches, who made the mourners laugh with his recollections of Jared's deceptively small stature, his amazing appetite for all kinds of food but particularly candy, his infectious humour, seemingly endless capacity to entertain family and friends and his clandestine visits to the Daley swimming pool while the coach was out of town.

    The fine character of all these boys emerged throughout the day.

    Brandon played on the high school's hockey team the Trojans, and the team's defensive coach Art Austin told mourners the boy emerged a true leader on the team in his rookie year, leading the Trojans to their first-ever victory at the annual Green and Gold hockey tournament in Miramichi.

    Jimmy was perhaps the quieter one, in the words of Rev. Carroll, "a good young man who chose his friends wisely, who respected everyone around him, who loved his music and sports but above all, his family."

    This was a day of heartbreak for these families.

    This was a day of trial for the loyal teachers and students of Harrison Trimble, for teachers from many other schools in the region, from School District officials, from the municipal councils and from the hundreds of others who attended all three ceremonies.

    The trial continues even today as buses have been arranged by the District to transport any teachers and students to Beresford to pay their respects to Corey and his family.

    On this day, the heart of our entire community reflects back on itself, and to all who are left behind.
  2. Chi City 81

    Chi City 81 Guest

    I've always considered funeral coverage of non-public figures to be in poor taste, regardless of how well-written it is.
  3. huntsie

    huntsie Active Member

    Even worse when it's poorly written. There's a reference to a Simpsons episode in the story for heaven's sake. And too many attempts at poetry and philosophy that just don't work.
  4. Chi City 81

    Chi City 81 Guest

    I agree. I was just saying I've read some real tear-jerkers, but I still think they're in poor taste.
  5. joe

    joe Active Member

    Disjointed as hell. It made my head hurt.
  6. Was this supposed to be a news report or a column?

    It has major problems either way, in my opinion.

    Ifi it's a news story, it's not-so-good for at least two reasons. First and foremost: the reporter opines like a madman. One egregious example: "But it is only possible to start with one so let it be the wonderful choice of Amazing Grace as the opening song for Jared Storey's service." I appreciate that the reporter, as a human being, was moved by the service and by the song. But his job, as a reporter, is simply to tell us what the song was, how Jared's family reacted to it, how the gathering reacted to it. His own opinion is inconsequential.

    Second: in all stories, but particularly Universally Understandable Experience ones of this nature, showing - rather than telling - is essential; the reader, as someone who has experienced sudden loss and experienced funerals, wants to know, precisely, how these people reacted to the tragedy. Here, the reporter writes, "This was a day of heartbreak for these families." Well, yes. But SHOW me how their heartbreak came through. Did they cry throughout the ceremonies? Did particular recollections make them cry? Did they laugh, briefly, at the funny ones? Did they stare at the ground throughout?

    We all knew, before we even started the story, that this was a day of heartbreak. His job was to take this story from the general - tragic accident begets sadness - to the specific. I don't think he did it.

    If it was supposed to be a column, #2 would still be a problem.
  7. (PS: do we do this here? Post and criticize the work of random reporters, byline-less or not?)
  8. Sly

    Sly Active Member

    I know this is a very sad story, but I can't stop laughing at the reporter using a Simpsons reference. Mercy.
  9. Holy shit. In my super-fast reading, I didn't even see that.

    Holy shit. I never even swear, but that's like...seventh-grade-newspaper-esque.
  10. mike311gd

    mike311gd Active Member

    Piece of shit. Get a reaction or three. I mean, obviously the corpse won't be up for an interview, but -- like sirvaliant said -- show the reader how this makes the family or friends feel. Let them tell the story.

    And for the love of Jebus, leave The Simpsons' quotes out of the obits. That's not the time to relay a pop-culture reference a few people will get.
  11. jfs1000

    jfs1000 Member

    Sometimes you have to do funeral stories, the problem is that the writer tried too hard. Stop trying to be poetic and philosophical. As a writer, describing action and emotion is much better than writing what the emotion is. Show the despair, not just say despair.

    There is no need to push the color in the story, it is already there.

    Isntead of, the family is heartbroken, show how they acted heartbroken. Maybe she stared stright ahead and never said a word. Maybe she went to the coffin and collapsed. People know they are heartbroken, how did it manifest?

    The best stories are when the loved ones talk about the deceased (if they are willing to do interviews). These stories should be about remembering the life, not a gamer on the funeral.

    I think these are in poor taste too. And the Simpsons episode is one of the worst usages I have ever seen.

    Let's be honest. The guy wrote a gamer.

    Edit: The story is fine until about 1/3 in. Once he went to As for an accoutning of the day...
  12. 0-fer

    0-fer Member

    I agree with the Good Doctor that funeral coverage is generally in poor taste, and I'm also on board with jfs100: the story was fine until the "Accounting." That's where I stopped reading, to be honest, and if I'm the editor, that's where I cut it.
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