Dear Reader:

I’m writing to let you know about a change coming to your Columbia Missourian.

Starting Jan. 4, the Missourian will begin charging 50 cents per word for obituaries longer than 100 words. Photographs of the deceased will be published for a $15 charge.

For many of our readers, me included, scanning the obituaries and death notices is a daily habit. Personally, I like to read these stories about people in our community.

I remember a woman I’d met when my grandfather lived in an Alzheimer’s unit at The Bluffs many years ago. I’d only known her as someone who sat quietly and was given a baby doll to hold and rock when she became agitated or restless.

It wasn’t until her obituary was published in the Missourian that I learned she’d been a NICU nurse in Columbia and had spent her career rocking and soothing newborns.

Obituaries help us learn about the lives of our neighbors. And the Missourian will continue to publish obituaries without photographs at no cost as long as they remain under 100 words.

General Manager Bryan Chester said the change is needed because it’s become too resource-intensive to offer this service for free.

“We, like all newspapers, are feeling the pinch, and we need to look for efficiencies and cost savings whenever possible,” he said.

More than 30 funeral homes in the region were notified of the change in mid-December. We don’t expect you’ll notice much difference as a reader. Our reporters will continue to write feature obituaries when we can.

I hope you will continue to read about the lives and deaths of people in our community online and in the pages of your Columbia Missourian.

Laura Johnston is a senior news editor and Opinion page editor at the Missourian.

About opinions in the Missourian: The Missourian’s Opinion section is a public forum for the discussion of ideas. The views presented in this piece are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Missourian or the University of Missouri. If you would like to contribute to the Opinion page with a response or an original topic of your own, visit our submission form.

Laura Johnston is Opinion editor at the Missourian and an associate professor at the Missouri School of Journalism.

  • News editor at the interactive copy desk and an associate professor at the Missouri School of Journalism.

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