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Mediahuis Ireland & Maps

Mediahuis Ireland & Maps

There was a notable recent radio interview with Peter Vandermeersch, CEO of Mediahuis Ireland. Many journalists would have sat up and paid attention, as Mediahuis Ireland, part of a wider Meriahuis group, is the publisher of many familiar Irish newspaper titles: Irish Independent, Belfast Telegraph, Sunday World, Herald as well as local papers like The Kerryman and special papers like Ireland’s Own.

The message was clear: firstly that Mediahuis Ireland foresee the end of traditional print newspapers, certainly daily editions within the next decade and maybe sooner. Secondly that they need to grow their online subscriber base very substantially to keep the show on the road in terms of independent journalism. Peter mentioned two related factors – commercial newspaper publishers have to compete in the online space with a large amount of ‘free’ journalism, some of it state sponsored like and paid for by the taxpayer. He also considered that news publishers had given away too much free online content early days in a competition to get eyeballs and in doing so had contributed to the public expectation of free journalism.

What’s this got to do with map publishing? Everything really – despite the fact that our state thinks map publishing is different from book or newspaper publishing, exactly the same factors are at play.

Will print maps be sustainable in a few years? Will there be enough customers for print maps to justify their costs? Will ‘free’ online mapping be ‘good enough’ to suit most needs? Will sufficient numbers of the public be prepared to pay an adequate fee for quality digital maps that will fund ongoing development and new maps?

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