Friday, November 15, 2019
US flag

The CTU president is not dead, repeat, not

We are happy to report that the obituary posted on the website of the Chicago Sun-Times for Karen Lewis, the president of the Chicago Teachers Union, was just a mistake in the paper’s online publishing management system; she’s alive and well, and the page has been un-published.

Newspapers pre-write obituaries for most famous people and keep them on file, along with documentation that can be used for the article of record when the person actually dies.

An interesting story in the New York Times explained how the national paper of record runs its legendary obituary desk, and another more recent op-ed discusses a few misconceptions people have about the process.

One of my assignments, when I wrote for a daily newspaper in Ohio, was to write the obituaries. It’s not a morbid job, or anything like that, since absolutely everybody dies at some point. And for very good papers, it’s usually the best practice to have material on hand and ready to go when that eventually happens.

I can’t say I ever prematurely published an obit, but I can see how this sort of thing could happen. I have, however, been asked to rewrite obits for the record, because these are things family members clip out and keep in their Bibles, and stuff like that. It has to be right.

For her part, Ms Lewis handled it with a sense of humor, telling Politico that “the report of my death was an exaggeration,” in the style of Mark Twain, and admitting that everyone makes mistakes. Sun-Times columnist Neil Steinberg pre-wrote the obit, and he called Ms Lewis to apologize. She was very understanding and even complimented him on the opening, which she said was “pretty sweet, frankly.”

According to a cached version on Google, the obit began as follows: “THIS IS AN ADVANCE OBIT. LEWIS IS NOT DEAD. DO NOT RUN WITHOUT CONFIRMING. BORN JULY 20, 1953 Karen Lewis was fearless. The president of the …”

Sweet, indeed. The paper will likely keep the obit on hand and add to it as Ms Lewis continues as the president of the teachers’ union. There’s more to come.

Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.

Recent posts

2 dead, 3 wounded in Calif. school shooting

Another school shooting has resulted in the death of 2 California high school students. The suspect shot himself and is in custody.

Mercury makes a transit; next in 2032

A transit of Mercury occurred today and was visible from the US, provided you had sunny skies. It was one of longest possible transits.

On the Naperville BWW racist incident

A racist incident at a Naperville, IL, sports bar indicates that the threads of racism are strong, perhaps as strong as ever.

IL bill could excuse absences to vote

A proposed law in IL could give students up to two hours during the school day so they could vote in the upcoming election.

Loan forgiveness gains some bipartisan support

One Republican from GA, who used to work under Betsy DeVos at the US Education Dept, offers a plan to forgive some student loan debt.

A band teacher is IL Teacher of the Year

IL named a band teacher the 2020 Teacher of the Year on Oct. 19. He individualizes music instruction and shares his work with 1000s.

‘Little Shop of Horrors’ bookends Halloween

Several high schools have decided to add a little spook to their musical stages in this season of Halloween. Music makes it happen.

New IL law ensures inclusion of LGBTQ+

A law will take effect next school year in IL that will require students to study LGBTQ history as part of the social studies curriculum.

MoCo doubles down on summer learning loss

Research is at least equivocal about summer learning loss, but maybe there's something to a new plan in Montgomery County, Md.

Downers North lights up the gym for Beth

Ongoing fundraising drives for a Downers Grove N. volleyball player killed by an intoxicated driver in Feb. are going strong in this western suburb.

High-payroll Yankees don’t make World Series

The World Series begins Tuesday, but some of the playoff games can teach us valuable things about youth sports, investment, etc.