Young & Reckless: AP Brit Obit Sparks Macabre Debate

Is 26 too young for an obit?

By Peter Fearon,  Newser Staff

Posted Jan 21, 2008 3:30 AM CST

(Newser) – The Associated Press decision to prepare an obituary for 26-year-old troubled pop star Britney Spears has triggered a debate about the extent the news media should anticipate the early deaths of celebrities like Spears, actress Lindsay Lohan and singer Amy Winehouse, who are clearly living risky lives. The AP had no obituary ready when actor Brad Renfro, 25, or former playmate Anna Nicole Smith, 39, died, which was a "wake-up call," said an AP editor.

"No one particularly likes this part of the business, but it's something you need to do." A Washington Post obit writer called it a "complex debate."  It's "unclear to what degree somebody really is on the edge," he said. "Do you spend the time to put something together if you're wondering" when it will run? He couldn't recall an obit for anyone under 30 among 100 the newspaper has prepared ahead of time. 

Photographers try to get a shot through the back window of a Los Angeles City Fire Department ambulance carrying entertainer Britney Spears, as it leaves her residence, Thursday, Jan. 3, 2008, in Los Angeles. Britney's increasingly erratic behavior has led some to fear she is risking an early death. (AP...
Photographers try to get a shot through the back window of a Los Angeles City Fire Department ambulance carrying entertainer Britney Spears, as it leaves her residence, Thursday, Jan. 3, 2008, in Los...   (Associated Press)
Members of the media gather around a vehicle carrying Britney Spears outside the Los Angeles Superior Court Monday, Jan. 14, 2008, in Los Angeles. Britney Spears could not enter a court hearing Monday as convened in her child custody battle with ex-husband Kevin Federline. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)
Members of the media gather around a vehicle carrying Britney Spears outside the Los Angeles Superior Court Monday, Jan. 14, 2008, in Los Angeles. Britney Spears could not enter a court hearing Monday...   (Associated Press)
Britney's increasingly erratic behavior has led some to fear she is risking an early death.
Britney's increasingly erratic behavior has led some to fear she is risking an early death.   (Getty Images)
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