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It has licensed HERE maps and its software platform as part of the service, which takes our content and lets editors find and refine the maps they need for their stories.
There’s clearly a need in the news industry. The company is already working with more than 100 publications across the world, including De Telegraaf in The Netherlands, Süddeutsche Zeitung in Germany, the Archant Group in the UK, and the Tampa Bay Times and the San Diego Union Tribune in the US.
Maps have become a more regular ingredient for news publications than was ever previously the case. Almost every issue of every paper illustrates its stories with maps.
“Maps and news are very close and similar to each other. A map can be worth a 1000 words when it comes to clarifying a news story,” says Christian.
His colleague Mathijs van Dijk, who looks after marketing, explains:
“Historically, the stories – the words – were seen as the only important ingredient for news publications. But times have changed. Now, there’s a strong emphasis on more and better design.
“At the same time, resources are tight. Using our tool allows journalists to create their own maps in simple cases.
“And it lets the graphic designers employed by the papers spend their time on adding extra value, their own special magic, rather than spending hours on the basics of creating a map.”
So what makes Maps4News special? Christian elaborates:
“First, our tool is extremely easy to use. Anyone could pick it up and be creating custom maps in two minutes.
“Second, it works extremely quickly. It takes a matter of seconds to get a file that’s suitable for print publication. Newsrooms work to narrow, inflexible deadlines. Not having to wait is an important factor for them.
“Third, we work very closely with our customers. Often, newspapers and magazines have a tightly defined brand style, with specific fonts and colours. We can take their brand guidelines and create customised map templates for their publication.
“And editors can bring in or fade out any elements they want – Points-of-Interest, for example, and street names might not be relevant to the story.
“Lastly, we aim to offer a full service, not just a web app. In our main office, we’ve just introduced a large screen where we can see all the jobs that are currently in progress. And if a problem occurs, a red light comes up. We can be in touch within moments – before they’ve even worked out that they need help, sometimes.”
And why did Maps4News choose to work with HERE rather than another maps provider?
“There are a couple of factors that are really important for our customers,” says Christian. “The first is, with a couple of exceptions, almost 100 per cent worldwide coverage.
“The second is the accuracy of the maps. It’s validated data that’s constantly being worked on and improved. News outlets need to be able to trust their suppliers and having HERE as our content partner is definitely a good selling point for us.
“Going forward, the HERE platform itself is very quickly becoming more and more powerful – the tools for analysing and pulling out the information you want. We look forward to being able to hand much of that power to our customers before long,” he concludes.
It’s always good to find HERE in the newspapers. What you may not have realised is quite how often we appear!