Oh, the humanity! The world is mourning the untimely death of a brilliant and world-famous journalist — you! As only you could do, you came back just long enough to write your own obituary before going to that great newsroom in the sky for your reward.
This is the one time that you may — in fact, you will have to — make up facts, quotes and other information to complete an assignment. You will have to make up your cause of death, place and time of death (your death should not happen today; it should be in the future).
You will need to create the glorious details of your exciting career, your life and your contributions to society. You may also want to invent your mate for this assignment.
While your facts for this assignment may be made up, your obituary must meet the following requirements:
- Use correct AP style.
- Use the software settings for paragraph indentions and double-spacing that we have specified in class.
- Include a dateline in the proper format (all caps, followed by a long dash; consult the Stylebook as to whether to put the state name after the city).
- The length should be 350 to 400 words.
File this story through Blackboard before the deadline given in class.
This is a news obituary — not the kind that a funeral home or a family would place in the newspaper as a paid notice. The story is mainly about the individual’s life, but his or her death is what makes it timely.
(By the way, it is common for the news media to write obituaries about living people so that something is ready to be published when that person dies. The media want to be prepared to run a story in the event of a known person’s death.)
Such an obituary includes quotations (from the subject and from others) and a biography. Here’s a general outline:
- FIRST, report that so-and-so (full name) died. Tell what makes this person prominent: “Former President Richard Nixon died late Monday night of a heart attack.” NOTE also the cause of death; this is often not specific, but may be given in such phrases as “died of natural causes,” “died after a brief illness,” etc. The first paragraph typically includes the person’s age and the date and place of death.
- SECOND, give a paragraph (or more if the subject’s importance warrants it) to briefly summarize the important points of the individual’s career.
- THIRD, begin a chronological account. “He was born in Tampa, Florida, on Aug. 12, 1943, at the height of World War II, to John James and Norma Cox (Fedders), and grew up on the family farm south of town.”
- DO NOT LEAVE OUT: facts of birth (date, place, parents); statistical record (marriage, divorce, children, grandchildren); survivors (including parents, spouse, children, brothers and sisters); educational experience; and major employers. The basic statistical facts may go into a separate paragraph by themselves (except for survivors, which always come last), or they may be worked into a larger narrative of the life.