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Posts Tagged ‘Gerald Ford’

New York Times Has 1,200 Advance Obits In The Can

In a new feature up on mediabistro, New York Times obituaries editor Bill McDonald pulls back the thin black veil, if only slightly, on the obit-writing process — and it doesn’t sound terribly dissimilar to how Dana Carvey‘s Tom Brokaw handled Gerald Ford:

Despite the potential for awkwardness, anticipation is key when it comes to producing obituaries for major figures. “You have to maintain a bank of advance obits in order to have length and depth and fact-checking,” McDonald explains. “It would be impossible to write on deadline otherwise.” The Times itself boasts a bank of over 1,200 such “advancers” — the oldest was penned back in 1982, also a case where the subject has outlived the author — and they are constantly refreshing the copy. “Some become obsolete and have to be rewritten,” says McDonald. “And some are fine, they get a minor dusting and in the paper they go.”

Prepping obituaries for important figures in advance is crucial because it eliminates the frenzy of creating them at the last minute and prevents factual errors from being introduced in haste. “We could never produce a comprehensive, well-researched, well-crafted 5,000-word biography of a head of state, say, or a literary giant, in a day’s time or less,” says McDonald. “And yet our print readers would expect to see such an effort from the Times in their morning papers the day after a major figure died. Our Web readers would probably expect to see the same in minutes.”

But with so many people to cover, how do they decide which ones to tackle first? One way major news outlets like the Times and the Post make the call is by monitoring the declining health of notables, as well as other factors including age, external risks and prominence. McDonald likens this challenge to “battlefield triage — tending to the most aged and the supremely important first, and then hoping the others can hang on a little longer until we can get to them.”

  • Death Goes Digital
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    Time‘s ‘T.G.I.Fridays’ Execution Misses One

    TGIF_time.jpgHad Time magazine been publishing on paper last week, it would’ve had some cover decisions to make. Specifically, Gerald Ford‘s legacy or Saddam‘s pending execution? Instead, its “You” cover lingers on the newsstand while obsessed readers mock ads, like the one running in the resized Wall Street Journal today [at left] for its new Friday publishing schedule. (As Copyranter notes, annunciating the “G” puts a new, literal spin on the Church-State thing.)

    Had Time been publishing on its “normal” Monday pressing, the magazine — like Newsweek — would’ve had the bizarre series of execution events to mull over.

    Instead, we’d imagine the magazine’s readers anxiously awaiting Friday publication of their Time by reading Time.com. Which is kinda the point anyway.

  • Don’t start thanking The Almighty til you see those new circ numbers, Ed [copyranter]
  • Ford Death Provides Agent Opportunity To Remind Publishers Of Client’s Unsuccessful Ford Book Pitch

    ford_assassin_book.jpgYou know that Gerald Ford book pitch you’ve had sitting on your desk since the mid-80s? No time like today to dust it off!:

    For immediate release
    Los Angeles, CA, December 28, 2006

    Contact Martin Literary Management

    Assassin’s Faulty Gun Saved President Gerald Ford’s Life

    “The only thing that saved him from a bullet between the eyes was the fact that the sight on the pistol she used was six inches off,” according to Geri Spieler‘s research for her book about Sara Jane Moore, “I’m Sorry I Missed, Mr. President” which is currently being shopped to NY publishers.

    If Sara Jane Moore had used her own gun, she would have “blown his head off,” according to the FBI investigators of the 1975 presidential assassination attempt. Moore was not the “lone crazy middle-aged nut shooting widely” the press presented her to be.

    Spieler, a San Francisco journalist, met Moore thirty years ago when Moore was incarcerated at Terminal Island prison. After years of letters, calls and visits, Spieler decided to write about the only woman who every fired a bullet at a U.S. president. Through her research she uncovered the many facts of the case never publicly revealed by the press, state and federal governments. Spieler found that the FBI didn’t want Mrs. Ford and the American people to know how close Ford came to being killed.

    Spieler is available for a phone or in-person interview.

    Times‘ Stanley: Ford TV Eulogies ‘Cheery,’ Respectful — With The Exception Of Today‘s Ann Curry

    ford_larry_king.jpgNew York Times television critic Alessandra Stanley spent yesterday working over her remote, watching the crush of coverage — with the exception of CBS, of course — of Gerald Ford‘s death:

    In Gerald R. Ford, who was 93 and served less than one full term, television found the avatar of comfortable presidential fadeouts. The deaths of Lyndon B. Johnson and Richard M. Nixon were too fraught with the Shakespearean tragedies they lived in office. Ronald Reagan‘s life and two terms were so momentous that the days leading to his funeral, though full and colorful, were also weighed down with mourning and Hollywood pageantry.

    Her observations about the coverage are interesting, particularly when Stanley veers from the coverage itself. Like here:

    Mr. Ford’s retirement was dignified and decent, but not particularly distinguished: old news clips showed him in the 1980s and 1990s playing golf and attending fund-raisers for Republicans, not raising roofs for the homeless or public awareness about pandemics in Asia and Africa.

    So Ford wasn’t Jimmy Carter. We get it. But let’s move on to Stanley’s swipe at Today‘s Ann Curry:

    With the exception of those offered by Ann Curry, who on “Today” adopted her usual smarmily maudlin tone, most of the encomiums were by turns affectionate and respectful, but not unduly mournful.

    EARLIER:

  • Video: Dana Carvey’s Tom Brokaw Was Ready For Gerald Ford Death In ’96