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On obituaries

The New York Times’ obituary for Luciano Pavarotti, published Sept. 7, 2007, was written in the traditional obituary style, with a lead that is pointed and effective. His cause of death is given in the second paragraph. His manager, who announced his death, acts as one source, with the writer also quoting other publications, such as Pavarotti’s interview with Opera News, a review from The New York Times of one of his operas and an article from Music Magazine. While Pavarotti’s obituary covers the basic highlights of his professional life, much like a resume, the writer treated his subject with more of a human touch. It seemed the writer had followed his subject’s career closely for many years and didn’t need to rely on many other sources. He recalled Pavarotti’s “disarming charm? during interviews. It was also interesting to me that writer included several of Pavarotti’s more uncomfortable and embarrassing recent career moments. He didn’t shy away from recalling Pavarotti’s low points, and I think this is especially important in notable public obituaries. Readers want to know (and should know) the many facets of public personas, whether these facets are flattering or not.

Pavarotti's obituary