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False Death, False Information

Adam Bernstein

The first sentence is not exactly Garcia Marquez, but it's eye-catching nonetheless. As my colleague Matt Schudel pointed out, an Albany newspaper reports the premature burial of a local man in his college alumni newspaper.

This reminded me of a terrific story the Wall Street Journal published several years ago about the alumni-magazine obits at one British college. Some administrator decided platitudes and dull, "alumni-update" style post mortems were out and the college magazine would stress relentlessly honest accounts of the dead graduates. It would follow the British tradition of vivid euphemism ("He was an uncompromisingly direct ladies man," etc.). Not sure if that's continued, as it might discourage alumni giving.

I was also struck by this account about obituary writers and their reliance on Wikipedia as a source for fact. This is a vivid reminder why Wikipedia is a mixed blessing for researchers.

By Adam Bernstein  |  October 4, 2007; 4:02 PM ET
Categories:  Adam Bernstein  
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