It’s out with the old and in with the digital in South Bend, Ind., where the RedPost will soon replace a handful of newspaper racks, Michael Depp reported Monday in NetNewsCheck. Think newspaper rack with a screen, promoting the content of the news held inside, as well as “tweets, live radar, video and other content, punctuated by advertisements.”
The RedPost, as its creators are calling it, is the brainchild of Kerry Oslund, VP of digital for South Bend-based Schurz Communications, which owns the Tribune, and Eric Kanagy, CEO of the RedPost, Inc., based in Goshen, Ind. The two came together after Schurz began scoping out possibilities in what’s known as the digital out-of-home network (DOOH), an emerging terrain that includes digital billboards as well as gas station pump top displays and screens in elevators.
Depp reported that creators hope to expand RedPost to indoor retail spaces, and if RedPost does well, they could create a new ad network, as well.
To one who sees the RedPost for the first time, the juxtaposition of old and new media can be incongruous. After all, the rack’s digital element is essentially promoting sales of a print product that publishers now widely acknowledge has no clear expiration date, despite earlier predictions of print’s imminent demise.
“We’re literally building a digital product on top of the legacy product,” Oslund says.
Depp reported that one question for publishers will be if the actual sales of newspapers goes up thanks to the new racks.
While traditional newspaper racks haven’t broadcast tweets or Facebook updates, they have themselves made news from time to time. In 2011, Poynter reported on a six-year-long battle between North Carolina newspapers and Raleigh-Durham International Airport. In that case, a federal appeals court upheld a 2008 ruling against newspaper rack bans.
“It must be remembered that a news rack ban like the one in place primarily restricts political speech and that political speech, of course, is at the core of what the First Amendment is designed to protect … An informed citizenry is at the heart of this democracy, and narrowing the arteries of information in the manner sought by the Authority will only serve to impair our country’s coronary health.”