Magazine article Editor & Publisher

'NYT' Video Obits Are Growing -- Including One by a Former President -- but Remain Secretive

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

'NYT' Video Obits Are Growing -- Including One by a Former President -- but Remain Secretive

Article excerpt

Two years ago, The New York Times posted its first video obituary known as "The Last Word." The subject, humorist and columnist Art Buchwald, had recorded an interview to be used at the time of his death.

"Hi, I'm Art Buchwald and I just died," the online presentation began. It went on to offer Buchwald's last views on his life, and death, in a groundbreaking online approach.

Since then, the newspaper has posted three other videos after their subjects passed on. They included longtime Times photographer Dith Pran, legendary musician Odetta, and philanthropist Stewart Mott.

Web producers have also stockpiled dozens more and have many in the process of being produced.

"We have about 30 done and 10 in production," says David Rummel, the Times senior producer for news and documentary. "There is editing and production and interviewing, and it takes time. You have to do a lot of research, get archival footage, acquire rights to things and go through our own video library."

In each case, the newspaper has agreed to complete confidentiality for the video obit subjects, promising not to reveal their involvement until their time of death. All Rummel would say is the completed group includes one former president, a Nobel Prize winner, and a playwright.

The offices of former presidents George W. Bush and George H.W. Bush told E&P they had not participated in a video. The offices of Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter did not immediately respond to requests for information. …

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