Friday, December 15, 2017

Funeral Directors Disapprove Newspaper's New Additional Obituary Fee

County Funeral Directors voice their disapproval towards local newspaper.

Earlier this month, funeral directors that publish their obituaries to the Republican Herald, received the following letter, dated December 1, 2017.

"We're delighted to introduce a new special section in 2018 that will memorialize each person from our area who has passed during the year.

"A Year of Remembrance - Gone but Not Forgotten" will publish on Sunday, December 30, 2018.  The section will include photos (where available), names and death dates for each person.  We have seen this section appear in other markets around the country and believe it will have added value for our readers, your customers and the entire community.

The letter was signed by Henry Nyce, Publisher, Michael A. Joyce, Director of Advertising, and Peter F. Banko, Editor.

In the letter, it also stated that

Each obituary published during 2018 will include a $25 surcharge to cover the costs of producing and printing this special section.

The additional charge mentioned in the letter, which is being called "non-declinable" will add an additional $25 per obituary in the coming year.

There is an option given by the newspaper, for a "free" obituary. The "free" obituary would only be allowed to contain 15 lines, after the first 15 lines, they then charge $3.25 per line.

Funeral Director Lisa Harner from H L Funeral Home in Pine Grove has joined many other funeral directors in the county whom are voicing their disapproval of this charge:

"We as Funeral Directors oppose this fee and think it is outrageous. Not everyone may want the obituary printed on the memorial page and in essence they are adding unnecessary costs to families during their time of grief. They already charge $25 to have the obituaries online through legacy."

Funeral Director Dave Truskowsky from Louis D. Truskowsky Funeral Home & Crematory Inc. had this to say:
"Funeral Directors are obviously in this business to make money to support our families. However most of what we also do is full of heart and we help to memorialize people with our hearts and service of good will. In this case the newspaper is not looking to memorialize folks out of the goodness of their heart but rather as a non declinable money making scheme. In turn, the funeral homes get a free ad. Starting January 1, before an obituary even gets printed it will cost $50.00; $25.00 for the use of and now another $25.00 for the year of remembrance."

Funeral Director  James Humphrey of James E. Humphrey Funeral Home and Cremation Services, Pottsville, when asked about the fee, responded with:
The reason I’m upset about this charge is that it's mandatory and families do not have the right to decline the $25 surcharge on published obituaries in the Pottsville Republican for 2018. I feel that families in the New Year should have the option whether they would or would not like to memorialize their loved one in a special publication. If a family wishes to participate in this publication I have no problem with the fee. But to charge a family that does not want it, is unacceptable. In our 30 years in business Myself and my father have never charged a family for something they didn't want, and I feel the newspaper is not giving them that option , because that’s part of what we as funeral directors do for families, we give them options.

Henry Nyce, publisher of the Republican Herald told Skook News,
In markets across the country, in similar size publications have delivered this service to their readers with great attainment and outstanding good will. This will be a full-color and truly special section, emphasizing loved ones for their families and friends.

Many large organizations run a list at the end of the year, of well-known celebrities, sport figures, politicians and leaders. This estimated 36-page broadsheet keepsake edition will be a chronicle of those people that have made a difference in Schuylkill County lives. It's much like the memorials that family members publish every day in our obituary pages.

A group of funeral directors within Schuylkill County,  is reportedly writing a letter that they will sign and send to the Republican Herald, Pottsville, hoping for a change in the extra fee.

The Republican Herald and the Standard Speaker in Hazleton, are owned by Times Shamrock Communications, Scranton.