New York Times

NYT memo to staff: arggh!

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Following a spate of erroneous or premature obituaries in its pages, the New York Times editor in charge of obits gets tough. His memo sent earlier today:

From: Chuck Strum
Subject: obit attribution

Can you please distribute this today to every member of your staff, reporters and editors alike?

The day after our erroneous obit appeared, two more obits were printed without cause of death, both from the Style department. Today, an obit from Culture was also unattributed.

So, here's what everyone needs to know:

Every obit -- EVERY obit -- must say how we know the person is dead. This is NOT a change in policy or style. It is a restatement. The fact of death must be attributed, although attribution of the cause, in paragraph 2, will suffice. No exceptions without approval from a masthead editor or the news desk editor in charge.

Please consult me if you have questions.


Update Tuesday: NYT Standards Editor Al Siegal follows up with his own obits reminder.

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