Saturday, August 21, 2010

All Publicity Is Not Good Publicity

Writing about obituaries reminds me of one of my favorite Herald anecdotes.

It is common obituary practice for every paper to keep things current. That is, when a noted public figure reaches a certain age (kind of close to my age), a reporter familiar with him sets up an interview to be used as the basis of the obit. The whole enchilada, from college days to names of grandchildren and great-grandchilden, are put down on the record, and the reporter goes back and writes the obit, which is then filed for the awful possibility that the noted person dies on deadline.

Sometime in the late '90s, the Herald sports section was ordered to produce an obit update. It fell to my former colleague Jack O'Leary to do the interview with former (and now, sadly, late) Red Sox announcer Ned Martin, one of the most wonderful people it was my pleasure to meet in my previous life.

Martin, as ever, was cooperative, talkative and charming. Jack had more material than could have been used for the obit of a Nobel Prize-winner or President. And then Ned asked a question.

"Gosh, I think you're going to write a good story. Could you send me a copy after it comes out?"


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