Here in Toronto we are thrilled to be hosting the fourth conference of the Society of Professional Obituary Writers (SPOW).
We know how much fun they are. We know how important they are. And we know we need to gather together and talk about our business.
It’s happening at Ryerson University, home of the largest journalism school in Canada, located in the heart of downtown Toronto.
Telling the Truth is our theme. It means getting it right. It means our president, Andy Meacham, leading us in a talk about how we handle suicide, dirty little secrets, sex, lies and yes, families who fight us all the way.
Telling the Truth means facing the future of obituaries. Do they have one? Is the print obituary dead or dying in the face of the changing media landscape? Jade Walker has a lot to say – and show us – about this.
Telling the Truth means hearing about why Canada’s largest circulation newspaper, the Toronto Star, decided to run a blockbuster, 4,000-word obituary called Shelagh: The Beauty of an Ordinary Life and how a team of reporters led by columnist Catherine Porter pulled it off.
Porter will be our lead-off speaker on Saturday. This obit has also been produced as an e-book that will be available to conference participants.
Telling the Truth means challenging the myths about obituary writing. Sandra Martin, senior feature writer at The Globe and Mail, Canada's national newspaper, writer and author of Working the Dead Beat: 50 Lives that Changed Canada, is going to do just that.