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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Let's try this again: The Mugridge obituary controversy

Posted By on Wed, May 20, 2009 at 10:52 AM

Like funerals, obituaries are not for the dead, but for the survivors. I was reminded of this by the reaction to our report on the recent passing of musician and Grog Shop co-founder Matt Mugridge.

Since that report appeared in the May 13 issue, we’ve received dozens of e-mails, phone calls and comments on our blogs from outraged relatives and friends of Matt’s. Clearly the report touched raw nerves, and not in the way that any newspaper ever intends, in that all of the feedback has been vehemently negative.

Virtually all who commented argued that we should not have noted the manner of Matt’s death — though some allow that if we felt we absolutely had to, we should have left out the details. Most responders have also lambasted us for ending the report with an anonymous quote from a friend, characterizing the death.

In hindsight I agree that the last paragraph was out of tune with the rest of the article, and unnecessary. The information as presented did not deepen anyone’s understanding of Matt’s life or death, and as we’ve since learned, caused considerable heartache to those who knew him best. That this came from Scene, which Matt loved, according to his brother Michael, added an element of betrayal as well. So on behalf of Scene, I offer condolences to all his relatives and friends for their loss, and sincere regret that we contributed to your pain.

We’re republished the obituary in the May 20 print edition, without the final paragraph of the original version. — Frank Lewis

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