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Webinar | Video 101: Producing live events for local media

Join us on October 4th @ 10:30 AM CDT

When local events happen—from public forums to sporting events to live music—your community looks to you for quality coverage. At our October customer webinar, Derek Gebler, vice president of broadcast and video, will show how easy it can be to produce live video coverage of local events, and distribute your video content to the world with TownNews.com’s integrated digital solutions.

Topics will include:

  • The benefits of producing live video during local events.

  • A pre-flight plan, including a gear checklist, equipment testing, and working with the venue.

  • Camera placement, sound recording, and off-site monitoring.

  • Using VideoLink to live stream to Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and your own website.

  • Post-event editing, distribution, and analytics.

  • . . . and much more!

Ready to get started? Join us on October 4th @ 10:30 AM CDT.

Want to take in the webinar on your own time? Register now and we’ll send you a link to the webinar recording once it’s ready.

Under review

Can we get an integrated alternative for Google Maps since it's no longer free?

ShorthornAdam 2 months ago in BLOX CMS • updated by Kevin M. Cox 3 weeks ago 9

College newspaper here -- we resumed publication after summer break and noticed that all of the maps on articles were not working (grayed out with a "for development use only" message).  It looks like Google Maps has gone to a paid usage model: https://cloud.google.com/maps-platform/user-guide/

I had to go through a bunch of rigmarole of setting up a Cloud platform app, enabling a tons of APIs and putting in a credit card since usage is no longer completely free. It was annoying because we don't do any cloud computing and don't need any of the datacenter-type features.  They do provide $200 of free credits every month, but there is no easy way that I could tell to stop it from charging you $20 or $200 or $2000 or $20000 if the site gets DDOS'd or has a huge traffic spike, or to set a $199.99 max usage and then have it disable itself.

Would you all please start investigating the feasibility of having integrated maps that use a free/open alternative, like maybe OpenStreetMap?  

I would like to remove my credit card from Google and not have to think about it.



We've been talking to a few people about this. Obviously it is not something we can control or could have controlled, but we are very sorry for the inconvenience.

As for alternatives, we did look into a few and there were some pretty significant disadvantages to the free alternatives, in addition to the extensive time it would take to re-develop the tons of map-related features we have presently.

That being said, this is a very valid concern. Do you (or anyone else reading this, for that matter) have any numbers you can share about what the impact is currently? Are you getting charges now? Do you have any usage data?

We were looking at possibly new ways we could reduce the API calls as well... so depending on usage, and where the usage was coming from, maybe there are things we can do to reduce usage. Any information you could share would help!

I will revisit with my team about the free alternatives as well, in case things have changed.

(Side note: I will also see if there is an API that will give you usage... maybe we could actually turn it off at a certain point. That's an interesting idea as well.)



Metered paywall messages

Thomas Martinez 1 month ago in BLOX Total CMS • updated by Kevin M. Cox 3 weeks ago 1

Does anyone else see the value in having a sign-in or sign-up link in every message readers get through the metered paywall messaging -- instead of just the final message? We have had some readers tell us they would prefer that then realizing it at the final message. See attached art. This is simple rendering of what it would look like.


We Need A-B Tests For Headlines!

Lake Looker 3 months ago in BLOX CMS • updated by Kevin M. Cox 3 weeks ago 2

This is a foolproof way that you guys could help publishers drive more traffic, almost immediately!

For an Article/Collection/Etc Asset Title, just give two (or more) boxes. If a publisher wants to A/B test the headline, they can fill in the second (or third, etc) box(es) with an alternate headline.

Alternate which of those is displayed to readers as they view the article on the site.

Let the publisher choose how many views the article needs in order for there to be a "winner" headline. Then by default pick the winning one.
PLEASE do this!!!

Under review


Christian Ramirez 3 years ago in BLOX CMS • updated by Benjamin Cameron 3 weeks ago 6
Can any of you share ideas or something you have already implemented internally to fight against AdBlockers? Check out what the Post is doing http://wicknet.com/1Rro5cA though this would require a paywall.

Using a form for community voting; restricting multiple submissions from same email

Sean Ignacio 3 weeks ago in BLOX CMS 0


We were recently selected to facilitate online voting through our site for a government appreciation program.

Requesting an option to disable multiple form submissions from the same email when set as a required field.

Thank you.


Feature Request: Add CSS and JS Options Per-Block Template

Robert Dundon 4 weeks ago in BLOX CMS 0

Currently, we can include JS and CSS for block templates in <style> and <script> tags, of course. And I know and have used the this.block.add_css() method before.

But, can we have an option those separate from the UTL, but still scoped within the block (sort of like Vue files). Here's an example screenshot:

..so anything in "Block JavaScript" would be in the page (inline or script), and the CSS within this.block.add_css()
Under review

Closings Application

Jason Schaefer 5 years ago in BLOX CMS • updated by Robert Dundon 4 weeks ago 31
Since business/schools/daycares/etc closings is a issue that all newspapers/media have to deal with it would be nice to have a built in way to have approved businesses input/update closings/delayed starts within BLOX.

Facebook Instant Articles

Paul MacNeill 3 years ago • updated by Beverly 4 weeks ago 5

Following up on Rob Weir's question, but with a Facebook focus. A Wordpress plug in was just announced making it easy for all publishers to access instant articles. Does TownNews have a plan to quickly match this?


Yes! We have already built the integration in fact. We haven't yet announced it because we'd like to have a customer go live with it to make sure it works properly and there are no issues. If anyone has a Facebook account that is approved for this, let me know, since it is still technically in beta on the Facebook side. =)




Webinar | Drive your users to action with our all-new Promo Designer block

Cherry Wolf (Marketing specialist) 1 month ago in BLOX CMS • updated 1 month ago 1

Webinar recording now available

At our September customer webinar, Christine Masters, director of product management at TownNews.com, introduced the all-new Promo Designer block and showed how to entice users with promotional overlays, slide-ins, and other offer messages. Susan Bell, senior product manager, also showed off some of the new features of the recently redesigned BLOX Now App.

Topics included:

  • A variety of offers you can make including some not-so-obvious ideas.
  • Step-by-step how to create a promotional offer using the new Promo Designer in BLOX CMS.
  • How to use iQ Engage and Google Tag Manager (GTM) to track or personalize offers.
  • . . . and more!

Watch it now.


REQUEST: Add broadcast to social media to mobile admin site

Andrea 1 month ago in BLOX CMS • updated by Christine Masters (Director of Product Management) 1 month ago 1

For the mobile admin site, what are the chances of adding the option to broadcast to social media?

If a reporter is filing from the field, they have to create and save the story, open the story, go to the link, copy the link, go to Facebook and post the link.

Adding the broadcast option would make the process much faster. 



Expanding the class CSS to individual links on menus

W. Rags. 1 month ago in BLOX CMS • updated by Robert Dundon 1 month ago 3

Allowing for a simple class='' option on each menu link.  Once that option is available, then it will be up to the end-user (us) to define the class within your system, and chose to use it on the link.  Updating would be as simple as changing the class name on the link in the editor.

You already do this for each 'block'.  It just needs extending to the links within the menu blocks.  Fairly simple feature, and one that wouldn't impact much on your system, but it would bring a lot of flexibility to the entire system, especially if you extended it to other items as well.  Each 'item' (html entity) then has a class='' field that contains a user managed variable that could be controlled in your editor.  I can imagine some very fancy work done, using this alone, and without you having to do anything extra after implementation.


Default images for article assets without photo

Jason Braverman 2 months ago in BLOX CMS 0

We are using the grid block a lot on our sites -- and using some automatic feeds that pull in content from the TownNews Content Exchange and other sources. Some of these articles do not have images associated with them. It would be great if there was an option to have a "default" image load - rather than just leaving it empty. Similar to when you post an article to Facebook without an image, your default Facebook image loads. This doesn't necessarily have to be specific to grid blocks - but any article blocks. Anyone else like this idea? 


Auto Slideshow

sbates 3 months ago • updated by Laura Beahm 2 months ago 3

We here at our paper would really like to see the auto slideshow functionality reinstated. This is a very nice feature and we actually have partnered with other paper and made a widget using this technology, it is not as effective without it. Hoping we can get some support on this topic.


Poll made in TCMS not showing up in CMS

Alex Hayes 2 months ago in BLOX Total CMS • updated by Kevin M. Cox 2 months ago 1

Our sports staff made a poll in TCMS but it is not showing up in CMS. There are section tags and it is marked complete.