Editorial: Why death notices and obituaries should be free

I want readers to know that Planet Princeton publishes obituaries, with one photo and unlimited words, free of charge. I edit these submissions to fit standard news style.

When I asked one Princeton resident recently why he hadn’t published his beloved wife’s obituary in local media outlets, he said it was because he couldn’t afford it. He then told me about the outrageous price quotes he was given by some local media outlets.

Most local newspapers charge between $400 and $700 or more to run a death notice or an obituary. The cost depends on the length of the obituary, the number of days it runs, and whether it includes a photo. Some funeral homes add the newspaper fee and other additional fees onto the price of funeral arrangements.

The practice of news outlets charging such exorbitant fees for death notices and obituaries — a more recent development that has become common over the past decade as newspapers have lost print revenue — is exploitive. Not only does it take advantage of bereaved families, but it also means obituaries are only published to recount the lives of those whose families have the means to pay the high fees.

Obituaries are one of the most popular kinds of content on news websites and in newspapers. In addition to providing readers with practical details about deaths and funeral arrangements, they tell the stories of the lives of the people in our communities. Obituaries are often tributes to loved ones. They also become records that help future generations learn more about family histories.

Every person’s life story should be told, celebrated, and preserved. No one should put a price tag on that.

Submit obituaries to editor@planetprinceton.com.

3 Responses

  • I agree
    Also why do you have to sign up with a credit card immediately when papers and genology sites say you get 14days free or similar free search. Free is free. Of I want to continue after testing search then I can choose to put in my credit card. They always want people to put their private information out there when it is not necessary. What a rip off.

  • Celebrating and honor the lives of those that have come before us is both decent and essential. Thank you for your service to our community

  • Thank you for this editorial policy, Krystal. I agree that obituaries are both fascinating life stories for every one to read and a service to everyone in the community. I was shocked at the cost of publishing my parents’ obituaries 10 years ago, and chose not to do it. I’ve regretted it since.

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