From the moment that the digital newspapers published the news on September 8 entitled “Elizabeth II’s doctors, ‘concerned’ about her state of health”, all the newsrooms on the planet understood what that predicted and in each of them there was heard, as a single voice, the superfluous question of the editor-in-chief: “What do we have of the queen?” That “what do we have” represents the implied meaning of a longer sentence that actually means “what do we have prepared in the fridge in the event that Elizabeth II dies and what are we going to publish as soon as there is official confirmation.”

    Called advance obituariesand any media worthy of the name he elaborates them with patience, care and rigor until the day they are needed, often years before the deceased’s death. In the era before the Internet, in the event that death occurred early in the morning, the working method allowed newspapers – not so much radio and television – a greater margin of correction and excellence (‘videlicet’, time ); the texts were embellished with the last experiences of the deceased, for example, those of the previous day or week; and the author could allow himself literary licenses that enriched the chronology of the deceased until closing time, the period prior to being sent to the press in which there is no turning back.

    The Internet and new readers, who rightly claim to know what is happening as it happens, they changed all thatso that the modern anticipated obituary is being cooked in the newsrooms as the calendar is unraveling, after a careful choice of characters and previous selection of the informative blocks (profiles, history, relevant facts) that will accompany the main news: «The Queen of England dies».

    The death of Elizabeth II, whose death was simultaneously accompanied by complementary content related to the deceased, has represented the obvious ‘triumph’ of anticipated obituaries, which due to Isabel’s age (96 years old) had been written and updated for some time. This was evidenced by the abundance and general tone of informative variety around the Queen of England, moments after her death was announced. The same thing happened, perhaps to a lesser extent, with Gorbachev. Think, and you will probably be right, of any relevant character, from Spain or abroad, who, by age, is closer to there than here. Most likely, his obituary is already written. They are dead in life, somehow. In thousands of newsrooms floats a file with the name of a deceased future in which, still inaugurating things and cutting ribbons, his figure is extolled or reviled, his achievements or his miseries are revealed and, in short, the words with which history will remember him are consecrated. I imagine the North American newspapers of the last stretch of our history. With Kennedy they must have worked on the run, not so with Nixon, which made it easy: “The president forced to resign over Watergate passed away today,” and so on. And so, with the naturalness that the profession of reporting presumes, thousands of narrative columbariums are stored on hard drives waiting their turn to fulfill their function and make room for the next one, hibernating in the literary pantheon of the living dead while their smile or their sullen gestures continue to populate the pages of the cover or the bridges of the metaverse. Biden, Ratzinger, Bergoglio himself, Putin or Zelenski they have the honor of already having their hagiography or their disapproval, while they smile at the camera or press the war button.

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    Many would pay to read his obituary before going to the other neighborhood. counted gay tales in a colossal 1966 report (‘Mr. Bad News’, Esquire) dedicated to the ‘New York Times’ obituary journalist, a certain Whitman, that he had even written his own so that when the fateful day came, it would be published as he wanted to be remembered, a privilege never obtained by the people whose death he wrote about. In addition to his own, the good man had about two thousand obituaries in the fridge ready to be printed and hundreds more waiting to soak.

    In an act of contrition, some relevant person has expressed to me the conviction that his obituary will not be as flattering and laudatory as he would like. I tell everyone the same thing: they still have time, Change your life, make it better.

    ttn-24