Mightier Than The Pen

Making The World A Bitter Place

Media Outlets Rush To Update Pending Sharon Obituaries

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SharonNew York (AP) – A rapid deterioration of former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s condition has journalists scrambling to update their files in case the publication of an obituary becomes necessary in the coming hours or days.

Sharon, 85, suffered a stroke eight years ago that resulted in his current comatose state. The former general’s life closely follows many of the defining moments of Israel’s history and politics, including a dramatic shift on Jewish settlements that involved the withdrawal of all Israelis from the Gaza Strip in 2005. In keeping with industry practice regarding public figures, newspapers and other sources of current events news have long maintained files will all the pertinent details of his life in case the need arises to release an accounting of his life.

When doctors in Tel Aviv announced yesterday that Sharon’s kidneys were failing and that various other systems were in peril, newsroom personnel and interns across the globe hurried to review their current information on him. In most cases the obituaries were all but written years ago; when Sharon initially suffered the stroke in January 2006, a similar scramble occurred. Little needs to be added regarding the intervening years, save perhaps for details of his deterioration and references to the long-term results of his policies.

The effort to ensure the timely publication of a comprehensive, accurate obituary is much easier in this case for that reason, says Ed G. Yoomer, who writes about journalism industry practices. “There’s usually a constant monitoring of press releases, media reports, gossip sites, and official web sites to keep pending obituaries accurate,” he explains. “But with Ariel Sharon, that really hasn’t been necessary.” There hasn’t even been a death watch, as took place, for example, in the waning days of Spanish dictator Francisco Franco in 1975.

“A death watch itself becomes a media event and might be worthy of mention in an obituray,” says Yoomer. “But here, all the journalists have to do is wait for one little announcement, add a few details to the article, and just pull the plug.”

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Written by Thag

January 2, 2014 at 1:37 pm

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