Obituary Project from L.A. Times Highlights the Lives of Coronavirus Victims

LA Times: The Pandemic's Toll project

A new Los Angeles Times editorial project is putting a human face on the loss of life due to the coronavirus pandemic. Launched in early May, The Pandemic’s Toll: Lives Lost in California is an ongoing collection of obituaries of Californians who have died from the virus.

Recent entries have included the story of an elderly woman who wrote her own obituary because she feared nobody else would, and that of another woman who survived Hitler and the World War II death camps, only to fall victim to the novel virus.

The project is headed up by Obituaries Editor Steve Marble, who came up with the idea in collaboration with editors Shani Hilton, Millie Quan and Mitchell Landsberg. Staff from across the newsroom have jumped in to write obituaries, including reporters from the Sports, Metro and Campaign 2020 teams. Six Times interns will also work exclusively on this project, a result of a collaboration funded by USC and a grant from the Pulitzer Center’s Coronavirus News Collaboration Challenge.

“We hope the collection of obituaries will not only personalize a story largely driven by numbers, but show how nobody seems to be immune from the virus,” Marble said. “They’re not downbeat stories but pieces about people’s lives, their adventures, their accomplishments and their challenges.”

The project was built by Ryan Murphy, Anthony Pesce, Alex Tatusian and Jennifer Lu. Additional help from Jerome Adamstein, Sameea Kamal, Christian Orozco, Jessica Perez and Cary Schneider.