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More details on automated obituaries

Gannettoid.com | news@gannettoid.com | Posted: Oct. 1, 2009 • Morning report

An internal memo sent Wednesday by Kate Marymont reveals more details about Gannett's plans for its obituary services.

Marymont, the company's vice president of news, mentions an agreement with Legacy.com and stresses that despite all papers moving to paid obits, death notices should be provided and are to be free.

"We believe the death notices provide a strong community service that we take seriously," Marymont said in the memo. "The list will serve as a source of record in the community."

The company originally planned to begin with The Indianapolis Star the week of Sept. 7, but announced Sept. 4 it would be pushing that back three weeks due to "unexpected delays." A memo sent Sept. 18 from Annette Gould, Gannett's manager of advertising technology, said The Star and three other papers are scheduled to launch the change Oct. 5.

Gannett has contracted Wave2 to provide the software. Customers will be directed to a Web site where they can select a template, fill in their individual information and submit the obituary. The program then takes the information, formats it and posts it to the newspaper’s host system.

Here is the memo:

From: Marymont, Kate 
Sent: Wednesday, September 30, 2009 4:02 PM
To: Editors of Gannett Daily Newspapers; Editors2 of Gannett Daily Newspapers
Cc: Publishers/Newspaper Operating Unit Heads (USCP Only); Zadrima, Melanie; Giallombardo, Leslie; Wall, Barbara W.; Winkler, Lucy; Gould, Annette; Clark, Ann
Subject: Obits: This needs your attention, please

To: Gannett editors
From: Kate Marymont

As you may or may not be aware, Gannett is in the process of launching a new strategy for paid obituaries. The strategy has three basic components: fulfillment of the obituary by the funeral homes on Wave2, our new self-service tool; a standard rate card across Gannett; and a companywide agreement with Legacy.com. Legacy is the largest provider of obits and guest books in the country.

Advertising reps at about two-thirds of the sites have completed orientation with Leslie Giallombardo. The remaining third will complete orientation by early November and all newspaper sites will be live by yearend.

We want to bring to your attention two ways in which this change affects Information Centers. 

Both will require simple but necessary steps by you. 

The two steps are:

The Information Center needs to publish a list of death notices in both the newspaper and the Web site. We believe everyone is entitled to a free death notice, whether or not a paid obit is purchased. If your newspaper does not publish such a list, we ask that you do so at the same time that the self-serve tool is launched. We believe the death notices provide a strong community service that we take seriously; the list will serve as a source of record in the community. This list, which will be provided for free, should include name, age, town, date of death and funeral home. The list should be in alphabetical order by last name. Some newspapers already produce such a list, and if that is the case, there is no need for a change. Some newspapers publish lists that include additional information such as date and time of funeral service. Any information beyond that noted here is a local decision.

1. It also is necessary to include language in the obituary terms of service (both in print and on the Web site) that allows Gannett to repurpose the information. We acknowledge that the terms of service are presented in a number of different ways, and we ask that you incorporate the following message into them. Please take care of this now.

Language to add to terms of service:

“Obituaries and photographs submitted to <<name of newspaper>> may be published, distributed, repurposed and otherwise used in print, electronic and other media platforms.”

We thank you for your prompt attention to this request.

If you have questions, please contact Ann Clark at (number removed) or via e-mail.


Here is the memo on the rollout schedule:

Wave2 - Tentative Schedule Update
Gould, Annette
Friday, September 18, 2009 4:18 PM
To: (removed)
Cc: (removed)
Attachments: oledata.mso‎ (14 KB‎); image001.wmz‎ (6 KB‎);

We are making great progress with the many different areas involved with an enterprise rollout of self service. Following is a new tentative schedule that better reflects our current status. As we get closer to your expected kickoff date we will contact you to schedule an initial call

Obits rollout


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