Published: Aug 05, 2008 06:00 PM
Modified: Aug 05, 2008 06:00 PM
Reader Dana Mangum wrote recently to ask if we could change our obituary policy.
"Outside of standard information ... I'd like to propose that the paper consider allowing its readers, if they so desire, to publish other notables about their loved ones within the obituary.
"Not only is it a lovely tribute to read and learn about the memorable acts that were a component of their nature -- perhaps how they were always sure to keep the bird feeder full in the winter, a motorcycle hobby, their picking up ballroom dancing at the age of 70, or how they helped someone in need -- but the collective remembering of that which made the person special in life can be therapeutic to those who are grieving.
"Our community is noted for the ability to express ourselves through many enriching forms, and this would be a touching way to add to the tradition."
The Chapel Hill News prints obituaries for free. It's important to get them right: spelling counts even more for something that someone is going to clip and save (and e-mail). But our editing, which we also did to save space, sometimes took the heart out.
Last month Associate Editor Dave Hart and I changed the policy.
We now will run obituaries of up to 300 words as submitted. If, over time, we think we need to increase that word limit, we'll change that too.
BLOG BUTTS: Dan Barkin wants to know if the Lexus driver I saw toss her cigarette on East Franklin Street knows we wrote about her.
Barkin, one of the N&O's senior editors, recruited me (so you can blame him). He was referring to a blog post I put on OrangeChat last week. I described what I'd seen and said a Lexus RX 300 costs $40,000.
The post attracted a lot of readers. So Barkin, who wrote about this in his Saturday column (he called my mentioning the SUV's price class warfarish, but I was curious) suggested I post an update.
As of Monday afternoon, the two posts had been read 1,989 times, one of the all-time highs on OrangeChat.
One of those readers was Meg McGurk, assistant director of the Chapel Hill Downtown Partnership. She asked us to write about a cigarette butt project she was working on, which led to the story on Page A3.
As for the Lexus driver, nothing personal.
And I'd love to talk with you: 932-2003.
DISGUSTING PICTURE: I get yelled at from time to time.
"It's just disgusting you would put that in your paper!" shouted Monday's caller.
She was talking about the photo we ran Sunday of a man building a stone wall on East Franklin Street. She thought he was an illegal immigrant taking away work from tradesmen like her husband.
I asked how she knew the man was here illegally.
"Well, you know as well as I do," she said.
I asked her to stop shouting but to keep talking. She said stone masonry used to be an art (Chapel Hill is known for its stone walls; that's why I asked staff photographer Leslie Barbour to shoot the picture.)
"I like it that we're liberal," she continued. But it's gone too far; the community has become "a haven" for illegal immigrants.
Her husband's job is not a job that Americans don't want, she said. But he can't find work because illegal immigrants will do it for less.
"We're at the point where we almost have to move out of the county," she said.
I could hear shouting in the background. "I hate you guys too!" It was the woman's son.
"He's mad because we can't pay for him to go to college," she said.
I wasn't going to argue. It wasn't called for. Sometimes we listen for facts, and sometimes we listen for emotions. It's all truth.