I’ve gotten many questions related to the “inner workings” of the Kansan. Believe me, it’s no top-secret affair.

Below are a couple of questions, both of which I’ve been asked more than once. Welcome to our inner sanctum...

Q. Why does the Kansan publish obituaries of people who have no apparent connection to Newton or the surrounding area? I’ve noticed this on regular occasion. Is it because someone in the newsroom has a distant relative or friend, and they need to fill space?

A. We publish obituaries because they are submitted to us. That’s the way it works. The bulk of our obituaries come from area funeral homes, but sometimes individuals or out-of-town funeral homes will submit them to us because they feel there are people within the circulation area of the Kansan who want to read about a loved one’s passing. Whether they choose to disclose in the obituary how the person is connected to the area is really the family’s prerogative, not ours.

And for the record, because I’ve been asked, it is not humanly possible for us to keep track of every person in the world and know who has passed away and that the family would like the obituary in the Kansan if the information is not submitted to us.

We don’t have a way to just “find out” the information on our own. Trust me, my superhero qualities are very poorly developed.

Q. Why do we have to pay to put things in the Kansan like obituaries and engagement announcements?

A. Because the Kansan is a business. It’s a strange and wonderful business that’s in the business of informing and enlightening the community, among other tasks. But employees still require paychecks. Utilities still have to be paid. Expenses have to be met. (And the economy affects us, too.)

One of my brilliant co-workers puts it this way: One doesn’t walk into a grocery store and expect to get groceries for free. Even with the “I’ve been a customer for 50 years” line, you probably won’t get far. Just as a grocery store makes money on the things it stocks on its shelves, so we need to make money on some of the items that fill our pages. Why? To be financially able to survive. It’s also why we have advertising on our Web site. After all, there is a world of content on that site, free to the public. That has to be funded somehow.

While I despise informing people that obituaries carry a fee, I also know that without that fee, I might not get paid, which means I might not have a job, which means there would be no one to publish obituaries at all. (And if the paper went out of business, there would be no Go-To Gal, and you wouldn’t want to cause me a huge identity crisis, now would you?)

While we do charge a fee for obituaries, it is a flat fee. So for $35 or $50 (depending on which format it is submitted in), the family can put in the information they want (up to 600 words) and a photo. As Ken Knepper, our publisher, put it “one overwhelming reason for the fee was to allow relatives to have control over the wording in a loved one’s obituary, instead of relying on our journalism format.” We want people to be able to write loving and appropriate tributes while still making ends meet so we can print a paper in the first place.

Yes, we do have subscription rates to help offset costs, but a person buying a year’s subscription pays about 40 cents an issue, which has to cover delivery costs, paper costs and ink costs. (A single copy costs 50 cents, which is about two-thirds the price of a candy bar, and it’s significantly better for your health.) With those kind of prices, what we take in selling the paper doesn’t leave much for the rest of the expenses. Those of us who write the news need paychecks. Those who print the paper need paychecks. Those who work in our office need paychecks. That’s where advertising and announcement revenue come in.

Just a note: Many of our announcements, such as birth, engagement, older birthdays, anniversaries and wedding announcements, have a free version, with the ability to pay if you want more “bells and whistles.” We’re not trying to be outrageous. We’re simply trying to put out a quality product and best serve our customers. And since our money-growing trees are all froze up this winter, we’ll do the best we can.