The Post and Mail recently posted a new policy regarding what it will print in an obituary at no cost. The paper will now only print basic name/date information. No longer will the paper print – at no cost to the deceased's family – information, like activities involved in, military service, awards/honors earned, group/church memberships, locations lived and other notes that describe the person's life.
I am sure the paper does face rising printing and distribution costs, but I would hope the publishers are aware of the importance that printing complete obituaries make in the communities they serve and the history they record each day. Deciding what is printed in the deceased's obituary should not be based on the family's ability to pay.
I have devoted countless hours researching family histories and doing research for people from across our country who have ancestors who were a part of Whitley County's history. Newspapers printed here from the 1850s to the present serve as an invaluable resource for doing that research and documenting family and community history.
Obituaries are not just names and dates, but stories and life histories of our citizens and how these lives built our community.
With the newspaper's new polity, we begin to lose parts of the history of Columbia City, Whitely County and its people. The printed words in our community newspapers serve as a basic and fundamental record, in many cases a legal word, of the people, places and happenings of this community.
I hope The Post & Mail will review their decision on obituaries and return to printing at no cost to the deceased's family the complete life record of our citizens. This is a prime responsibility of a community newspaper along with reporting other community happenings. These are the reasons that the community newspaper is preserved in libraries and record centers everywhere.
Under this newspaper's new policy important information will be gone forever for generations that follow us. Obituaries should not be the victim of our economic choices.
Charlotte Hurd Blair
Whitley County Genealogist