Jerry Orbach, Susan Sontag, Benazir Bhutto, Michelle Lang, Tony Proudfoot, Rémy d’Anjou.
What do these people have in common?
They had the misfortune of dying in late December in recent years, meaning their presence on year-end obituary lists is hit-and-miss.
Orbach and Sontag died on the same day, Dec. 28, 2004, according to Wikipedia. That, more than some editorial decision that they weren’t important enough, was why they were left off lists of celebrity deaths that year, like this one from Associated Press and this one from Hour.
This year, Radio-Canada’s Regards sur 2010 special ended with a long list of important people (particularly Quebecers) who died during the year. Missing from that list is former Alouettes player Tony Proudfoot, because the news of his death came the morning of Dec. 30, the day after the show aired. Some print lists, like this one from Postmedia News and this one from Canadian Press, include his name (at least in their latest versions – this one from Postmedia and this one from CP don’t have it).
This is the problem when you summarize something before it’s over. I realize there’s a desperate need to fill space just before New Year’s, but publishing a list of people who died during a calendar year before the year is complete is like printing the boxscore of a hockey game before the last buzzer, or publishing a review of a movie before the final act. It’s inaccurate, and obituaries is a place where accuracy is pretty important.
And it’s not like you can just hold them over for next time. Tony Proudfoot and Rémy d’Anjou won’t be appearing on any “they left us in 2011” lists.