an interesting topic for debate... though i don't blame AP... it doesn't get paid by advertisers...
Debate rages over prewritten obituaries for young, living stars
John Rogers, Associated Press
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
(01-22) 04:00 PST Los Angeles --
It's never been a secret that when people die after long and distinguished careers, the detailed obituaries that major news organizations seem to produce almost instantaneously were in fact written well in advance.
But now the news that the Associated Press has prepared an obituary for 26-year-old Britney Spears has put the spotlight on a debate within the business of reporting death: With people grabbing the celebrity spotlight at a younger age, and some of them living lives of obviously dangerous excess, is it time for news organizations to begin preparing for early exits from celebritydom's under-30 crowd?
"It's a complex issue, a complex debate," says Washington Post reporter Adam Bernstein, a respected obituary writer. "It's unclear to what degree somebody really is on the edge. So do you spend the time to put something together when you're wondering whether it will run now or 70 years from now?"
Of the approximately 100 prepared obituaries the Washington Post has in its files, Bernstein could not recall any on a person under 30. He also questioned whether an obituary on someone like the troubled pop star could be much more than a recitation of bizarre public behavior, as opposed to focusing on real accomplishment. ... Such interest, longtime Hollywood publicist Michael Levine believes, is being driven by the Internet. He speculated that the Web's ability to make stars of people overnight is forcing news organizations to be more prepared to tell those celebrities' stories within minutes of their demise.