Profiteering from Death?

Interesting story in today’s Sunday Times about the price of death notices in newspapers. We all know that the newspaper industry is an industry in crisis, that ad revenues have been falling, and that many titles are struggling to survive. We also know that over much of Ireland there are many thousands of people for whom the death notices are the most important part of a newspaper – you only have to look at the Irish News or the Anderstown News to see how important. So there is something about this that leaves a very bad taste in the mouth, especially given the importance of death notices in working-class communities.

The cost of placing a death notice in Ireland’s national newspapers has increased by up to 17% in the past three years, more than five times the rate of inflation. Charges have also been introduced to view funeral arrangements online.

It’s hard to argue with the Consumers’ Association of Ireland.

Dermott Jewell, its chief executive, said: “This is an area where consumers don’t want to question prices. They are not in anything resembling a frame of mind to query costs.”

However, like everything else, it seems things are beginning to move with the times, with the emergence of the free website Rip.ie. I’m not saying newspapers shouldn’t charge for death notices, but 300 euro seems like a hell of a lot. The profit imperative as usual steamrollers human decency.

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