Oct 16, 2017 – EVANSTON, IL—The Society of Professional Obituary Writers honored the best writers in the field on Sunday, Oct. 15, at the biennial ObitCon conference, held Oct. 13-15 at the Chicago-area headquarters of the leading online obituary hub, Legacy.com.
Reporters and editors from all over the world submitted entries for consideration in the 2017 “Grimmys,” as SPOW’s professional achievement awards are known. After blind judging by a panel of experts, SPOW’s unique tombstone-shaped trophies were presented to winners in five categories:
- The Alana Baranick Lifetime Achievement Award went to Andrew Meacham of the Tampa Bay Times, whose 2015 feature series “Finding Fletcher” documented his search for the fate of his long-lost childhood friend.
- Obituary Writer of the Year went to Linnea Crowther of Legacy.com, whose body of work celebrated the cultural impact of numerous artists, musicians, actors, writers, and athletes who died during 2016.
- Best Obituary of an “Ordinary Joe/Jane” went to Maureen O’Donnell of the Chicago Sun-Times, whose winning story paid tribute to a Butterball Turkey Talk-Line expert who helped families solve their holiday meal crises.
- Best Long-Form Obituary went to Tom Hawthorn of Toronto’s The Globe and Mail, who told the colorful life story of Al Howie, an eccentric ultramarathoner who ran across Canada.
- Best Short-Form Obituary went to Neil Steinberg of the Chicago Sun-Times, who saluted the 83-year life of the Brookfield Zoo’s star cockatoo, Cookie.
This year’s ObitCon marked SPOW’s 10th anniversary as the organization representing obituary writers’ professional community. Acclaimed documentary filmmaker Vanessa Gould, director of the recent movie “Obit” that goes behind the scenes of the New York Times obituary desk, headlined ObitCon’s lineup of guest speakers. Also speaking were Adam Bernstein, obituaries editor at the Washington Post; Owen Youngman, the Knight Professor of digital media strategy at Northwestern University; Susan Soper, founder of ObitKit; and Stephen Segal, senior managing editor at Legacy.com.
“There’s no more fascinating source of true life stories than the obituary pages,” Segal says. “The amazing journalists who belong to the Society of Professional Obituary Writers spend every day documenting some of the realest news there is, accurately depicting the lives of our communities’ neighbors, heroes, and loved ones.”
About the Society of Professional Obituary Writers
The Society of Professional Obituary Writers (SPOW) is an organization created for folks who write about the dead for a living. Since 2007, the society has provided professional training and resources to help writers develop reporting, interviewing, writing and new media skills for creating outstanding obituaries. Visit http://www.societyofprofessionalobituarywriters.org for more information.
Legacy.com is the global leader in online obituaries with over 44 million visitors a month and ranked as a Top 50 domain in the U.S. by Quantcast. Through the Legacy.com and Tributes.com brands, the company provides support and obituary-related services to more than 1,500 newspapers and 4,000 funeral homes in the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, U.K., and Europe to help people express condolences and share remembrances of loved ones. Legacy.com’s partners benefit from unparalleled scale and expertise that enables the delivery of industry-leading products, innovative e-commerce solutions, and award-winning customer service. Legacy.com is headquartered in Evanston, Illinois. Visit www.legacy.com for more information.