Readership grows with obit links

Sandra ClarkFeature, Gossip and Lies

I found a new funeral home today. After 10 months of trolling the websites of mortuaries in a 12-county area, I found a new one. Manes Funeral Home in Newport (Cocke County) has joined our lineup.

You can call me competitive and be right. But don’t call me hearing impaired. After repeated folks said, “If it weren’t for the obits, I’d cancel my (daily newspaper) subscription,” an idea was born. began offering absolutely free obituary links in January. We’ve now posted more than 5,700.

How it works: Every evening, I visit 46 unique mortuary websites. Most publish their newest entries on top of the list, but some do not. I’ve pretty much got them logged in my short-term memory. So, I copy and paste the name of each newly deceased, along with the day’s date, the mortuary name and a take-down date that’s one day following the memorial service. Then I copy and paste a link to the full obituary on the mortuary’s website.

We’re betting that readers will review the list daily, clicking on the link of names they recognize. Call me crazy. Call me Maude (from that wonderful movie “Harold and Maude”). Tell me there are easier ways to do this.

But it’s my life and my time and my idea. We’ll see how it works.

We monitor readership for each story posted on On a recent week, our obit page had over 1,300 hits – more than our best-read story. We’ve done this with absolutely no advertising. Think of the hits we’ll get once people realize what we’ve got –covering a now 13-county area.

At age 23, I bought the Halls Shopper. Wrote it, sold ads, built pages with hot wax, slept in the car while it was printed and carried it to homes in Halls. That was a pioneering concept in 1971 – free news weekly, supported by advertising. is likewise a pioneering concept – free news (and obit links) online, updated twice daily, supported by advertising.

We’ve got some other neat ideas coming soon. And a mailer to the Bearden area (routes in 37909 and 37919) coming in November. (Call me if you want an ad – 661-8777.)

Sandra Clark is editor/CEO of


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