As It Happens

P.E.I. reporter tells alarmed readers paper had no obits because 'just ... nobody died'

Journal Pioneer reporter Colin MacLean took to Twitter in a now viral tweet to explain that there was no mistake, the paper just didn't have any obituaries to publish.

A tweet by the Journal Pioneer's Colin MacLean explaining there was no mistake went viral

Colin MacLean, a reporter with the Journal Pioneer, tweeted: 'There were no obituaries in today's paper. People are calling, wondering what happened to them. Just ... nobody died.' (Brad Works/Submitted by Colin MacLean)

Read Story Transcript

Prince Edward Island reporter Colin MacLean had to assure readers that there wasn't a mistake when the Journal Pioneer was published without the obituary section, "just...nobody died."

MacLean said the paper received two calls from concerned customers after the Aug. 9 edition of the 153-year-old paper was distributed without a single obituary. 

"I overheard the conversation from our circulation people and they actually checked," he told As It Happens guest host Matt Galloway.

"And they told the customers that no, there had been no mistake, there just wasn't any obituaries to be printed that day."

After hearing those calls, the reporter took to Twitter to quell the fears over the lack of death notices.

"There were no obituaries in today's paper. People are calling, wondering what happened to them. Just ... nobody died," MacLean tweeted.

That tweet by MacLean has since gone viral, and prompted replies from all around the world.

Zombie apocalypse? 

He said people are comparing the lack of obituaries in the paper to a season of the Doctor Who spin-off series Torchwood: Miracle Day. The plot in the final season is that nobody on Earth can die.

Others were worried that it could only mean that a zombie apocalypse had begun.

"In general people just sort of got a kick out of it," he said.

"They thought the idea of nobody dying for a day was some good news for a change maybe."

An excerpt of the obituaries that were in the Journal Pioneer's Aug. 10 edition. (Journal Pioneer )

The tweet also struck a chord with journalist who have forgotten to put another popular item in local papers: the crossword.

"I think that's actually happened here once or twice," MacLean said.

"Somebody's forgotten to put the answers to the previous day's crossword and that's never a good day." 

'First thing they look at'

MacLean said that on the Island, which is home to approximately 145,000 people, the obituary section is still an important part of the community.

"I know a lot of people who that's the first thing they look at when they get the newspaper," he said.

In such a small community, MacLean said it's where people go to find out if any friends or relatives have died.

"If you open the newspaper and look at the obituaries there's a pretty good chance that you might actually know somebody there," he said.   

While it's uncommon for the obituary section to be left out of the paper, MacLean said it has happened before. The paper said they occasionally do not receive any death notices for local funeral homes. 

The Aug. 10 edition of the Journal Pioneer, however, did have an obituary section. 

Written by Sarah Jackson. Produced by Katie Geleff. 


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Account Holder

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?