Archive: About this Blog
Posted at 5:49 PM ET, 09/ 5/2007
About Post Mortem
Welcome to our blog, Post Mortem, by the news obituary writers at The Washington Post -- Adam Bernstein, Matt Schudel, Joe Holley and Patricia Sullivan.
Obituaries have become an increasingly popular feature in the newspaper and online, as well as on Internet discussion groups, in books and magazines and even films. Moreover, they provide insights into culture, politics, science, the arts, business and people's peculiar pursuits. For those of us who write them, obituaries are never morbid because they focus on the endlessly fascinating ways people choose to live their lives.
We believe a good obituary requires solid reporting skills, a sense of history and a dash of good writing.
Posted at 5:42 PM ET, 09/ 5/2007
Matt Schudel has been an obituary writer at The Washington Post since 2004. He grew up on a farm in Nebraska and attended country school. He has degrees in English from the University of Nebraska and the University of Virginia. He worked for a now-defunct book division of U.S. News & World Report and was a copy editor for The Washington Post for two years before moving on to journalism jobs in Raleigh, N.C., New York City and Fort Lauderdale, Fla. He has been a feature writer, magazine writer, jazz critic and art critic and has covered everything from murder cases to the space program to wild armadillos. He is the author of a photo-biography of Muhammad Ali's years in Miami. He enjoys obituaries because there is nothing more interesting than people's lives.
Posted at 5:38 PM ET, 09/ 5/2007
I've ricocheted around the country in my career, covering a wide variety of beats in a number of fascinating places, with a single common thread: I can't hold a danged job.
I've been an obit writer at The Washington Post since September 2003, covering the lives of such personalities as Rosa Parks, Betty Friedan, the brightest boy of 1929, and scientific superstar Francis Crick, as well as many, many homemakers, lieutenant colonels and government employees.
I came to The Washington Post in November 2001 as the local technology editor on the business desk after living in the West for nearly 20 years.
Posted at 5:35 PM ET, 09/ 5/2007
Adam Bernstein has been helping put the "post" in Washington Post for more than six years. The American Society of Newspaper Editors has recognized his obit writing for doing "a great job revealing the small details and anecdotes that get at the essence of the person." He was also featured in Marilyn Johnson's recent book about the obit writing craft, "The Dead Beat." Bernstein wrote the introduction to the 2004 reprint of "You're Stepping on My Cloak and Dagger," Roger Hall's best-selling memoir of his wartime experiences in the Office of Strategic Services.
Posted at 1:30 PM ET, 09/ 5/2007
Joe Holley is a native Texan who has been the editor of the Texas Observer, an editorial page editor and columnist in San Antonio and San Diego and a frequent contributor to Texas Monthly, Columbia Journalism Review and other publications. He also wrote speeches for former Texas Gov. Ann Richards and, with his wife, Tara Elgin Holley, is co-author of My Mother's Keeper: A Daughter's Memoir of Growing Up in the Shadow of Schizophrenia (William Morrow, 1997). At the moment he's working on a biography of Slingin' Sammy Baugh. Now that the statute of limitations has passed, he also can reveal that he was once a ghostwriter of Hardy Boys mysteries.