Obituary Analysis

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By Luke Peterson
Phyllis Thornley, a lifelong Minneapolis resident with a passion for books, took her love for reading and transformed it into a career as an administrator and librarian for over three decades in the Twin Cities area.
A reporter for the Star Tribune wrote an obituary for her which, on the whole, closely resembles the New York Times style, though the lead does not. Instead of leading with the name of the person and concluding the lead with the date and location of her death, this obituary begins with three anecdotal sentences which provide some background about the subject's love for books. In the fourth paragraph, the author combines 'the lead' and 'the cause' from the standard structure, and then follows with 'the claim to fame,' 'chronology,' and 'family' sections with quotes inserted from Thornley's family and friends.
The main news values of this story are proximity and prominence. The subject is a woman who had lived in Minneapolis for most of her 87 years, and worked in Minneapolis schools for a large portion of her adult life. Consequently, she was likely to have been known by a large number of people. Her peculiar love of books seems to add a bit of novelty to the story, but not really enough to classify it as a central news value.
Some of the obituary does read like a resume in the claim to fame and chronology sections. However, quotes and information about Thornley's hobbies and personal life are mixed to paint a more humanized picture than that of a resume.

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This page contains a single entry by pete8904 published on November 4, 2012 9:16 PM.

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