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Webinar | How to create and execute a successful video strategy for local media

Cherry Wolf (Marketing specialist) 2 months ago • updated 2 months ago 2

Webinar recording now available. From social media to over-the-top (OTT), everyone is talking about video. At our May customer webinar, Susan Bell, senior product manager of BLOX OTT, discussed this growing opportunity for local media and how to get started.

Topics include:

  • Expanding your audience with digital video.

  • Why you need a video strategy and how to start developing one.

  • How video can help you boost user engagement.

  • . . . and much more.

Watch it now.


Feature request: Add video "start at" time to YouTube assets in TCMS/Blox

Chase Doak 2 months ago 0

We've had a few requests lately regarding YouTube video embeds with a specific start time in the video. For example, one story we had was about political candidates, and we wanted to add video clips of each candidate talking about a specific topic. There's a long video of a candidate forum, but instead of embedding the video from its start and making viewers watch through the whole thing, we wanted to jump to the specific times that each candidate was speaking (see the video below). We ended up having to use HTML assets instead.

.embed-container { position: relative; padding-bottom: 56.25%; height: 0; overflow: hidden; max-width: 100%; } .embed-container iframe, .embed-container object, .embed-container embed { position: absolute; top: 0; left: 0; width: 100%; height: 100%; }

Facebook Instant Articles

Paul MacNeill 2 years ago • updated by Ardit Vioska 2 months ago 4

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. =)




Feature request: Ability to have site images/collections be able to be behind a hard paywall that is section specific

Rob Weir 2 months ago in BLOX CMS • updated by Kevin M. Cox 2 months ago 1

Hi there, 

At the request of Joanne Sandy, I'm posting this here as a feature request. 

The Columbia Missourian has an editorial cartoonist, Jon Darkow, who is well known in our area. We would like to be able to run his editorial cartoons on our site, behind a hard paywall. 

Right now, the TownNews paywall configuration is to either protect all images on the site, or none. Because these editorial cartoons are images, we'd like the ability to paywall just those images within a given section (in our case, /opinion/darkow, but this would vary at other TN sites). 

She asked me to answer these questions: 

1) What problem(s) does this idea solve? Why do you need this idea implemented? Provide as many problems or use cases as possible.

The problem this would solve for us is allowing only certain types of content to be paywalled, rather than an all-or-none solution for photos. 

2) How often would you use this feature?

Several times a week. 

3) How many people in your organization would use this feature?

In the organization, only a couple of people who design the opinion section. But for the community and for subscription purposes, many more. 


Mobile Blox Admin. When pasting text into a new article, all returns are removed.

Jeff Sebestyen 2 months ago in BLOX CMS 0

When I go into blox, and "Write an Article", I paste text into the body and all returns are removed.  

I understand if all formatting is removed, but why must all my paragraph breaks and returns be removed.  Seems like a bug, and I wanted to report it.  Happens on iOS and Android, Chrome. 


Webinar recording now available | Are you making the most of syndication?

Cherry Wolf (Marketing specialist) 3 months ago • updated by anonymous 2 months ago 2

Watch the recording now

The goal of every site is to draw users in and keep them—an engaged userbase usually equates to bigger revenue. At our April customer webinar, Christine Masters, director of product management, and Tim Turner, content program manager, at TownNews.com, shared best practices for making the most of syndication and ways you can make it work for you.

Topics include:

  • Best practices for managing syndicated content in BLOX CMS
  • Examples of our favorite sites using aggregation
  • Tips for getting RSS feeds from the community and other local sites
  • Setting up a group content hub
  • Working with the TownNews.com Content Exchange

Spammy pop-up ads when users click on our stories in Facebook

Andrea 2 months ago in BLOX CMS • updated by Dave von Falkenstein 2 months ago 4

We have noticed an uptick with this problem. Whereas all of my Googling says it is likely an issue with malware on the user's device -- how can we know for sure that the problem isn't on our website? (For the record, about 98% of our ads are served through OAS or Blox. We have NO Google ads on our site -- that I'm aware of, but I don't control the advertising part of our site and don't know much about it. We do have an AP video player that shows Google Ads.)

I have followed all of the advice I see, and even I am still getting the pop-ups (not on every story, but enough to be annoying). 

Thanks in advance! 


FEEDBACK REQUESTED: Social Override Fields

Christine Masters (Director of Product Management) 3 months ago • updated 2 months ago 2

We are working on adding new "social override" fields to allow customization of these meta tags at an asset by asset level. The fields would include:

  • Social preview image: Ability to change og:image separate from main photo or teaser image.
  • Social title: By default it is the headline, but can be overwritten here.
  • Social description: By default it is the summary, but can be overwritten.

Here is the part where I would like feedback:

  • Twitter card: By default, we will use the "summary_large_image" setting, unless vertical or too small, in which case it will use "summary." If there is no image, it will use the og:image tag, and will use the "summary."

I can't (right now) create a default per section, so I need some logic that will get close. I think the following:

- We can have horizontal images use summary_large_image, and articles with no image, small images, or vertical images use "summary."

- I could have all articles with images use "summary_large_image," and only articles with small images or mugshot presentation images use "summary." Articles with vertical images would rely on Twitter's photo cropping AI to fix it. Or, an editor could go into the article and create a new social preview that fixes the crop.

- Twitter card could be changed with batch edit.

Let me know what you think!


Thanks Kevin! I've also spoken with some people behind the scenes as well and that seems to be pretty universal right now. Thanks!


Admin User Group reporting

Kevin M. Cox 2 months ago in BLOX CMS • updated by Robert 2 months ago 2

There really needs to be an accounting / reporting function for the user groups that admins are assigned to.

I can easily see how many people are in each group, but the only way to figure out who they are is to open the account of each admin user one by one.

Similar to the Positions dialog under Banner Ads (with Assign/Remove function) I should be able to see which admins are in each group from this window as well as remove and add them without having to open the user accounts individually.


Text to talk/audio tool

lmneff 2 months ago in BLOX CMS 0

Text to audio. Is there a tool we can use with our site that would "speak" our text articles? I've seen this on other news sites. And I am able to get my Alexa Echo to read our website. But wondered about a tool on the site to read articles.

Under review

FEEDBACK REQUESTED: "New" flags, "updated" flags, important updates & more

Christine Masters (Director of Product Management) 3 months ago • updated by Kevin M. Cox 2 months ago 6

I am reviewing feature requests and other issues surrounding start times and update times of articles. My question to you guys is:

- Is there any reason NOT to turn on important updates?

I'm considering making this feature enabled by default. Meaning, only updates on which you check the "important updates" box will modify the "last modified" time. An unimportant update would still create an entry in the story's revision history (in case you need to track it), but otherwise wouldn't trigger anything on the front end.

As part of this:

- Add "important updates" to all asset types.

- Allow block to be sorted by "update time" (which would include only important updates).

- Add flags or other indicators on the front end when stories are updated or new.

- Add more specific publish date and updated date to front end article (for transparency to readers)

- Remove settings for "important updates" and "add comments to important updates" since they would be default for everyone.


Under review

Feature request - infinite story scroll

doug nelson 3 months ago in BLOX CMS • updated by Kevin M. Cox 2 months ago 5

I would like to request an infinite scroll feature. When you get to the bottom of one story the next story published in chronological order shows up on the same webpage. This goes on for ever. 

Under review

Email Reach - filter out users who do not have active subscriptions

Kevin M. Cox 3 years ago in BLOX CMS • updated 2 months ago 3
We’re looking to create an email newsletter exclusively for subscribers, as opposed to our normal newsletters that anyone with an account can receive.

As such we’d love to see an option that would allow anyone to sign-up, but on send the system would omit the emails of users who do not have an active subscription at the time of the email.

This would create an automated system that we didn’t have to constantly manage by adding and removing users as subscriptions are bought and expire.

Please let me know what y’all think and if there is a possible this could be implemented.


Alignment for Related Assets needs to be fixed

Nathan Bechtold 4 months ago in BLOX CMS • updated by Kevin M. Cox 2 months ago 1

When I add a Child Asset to an article, but do not actually drop the Child Asset into the body of the article, I don't like what it does to the alignment of my page: it actually ADDS a "left rail" and shifts the entire text of the article to the right. But the only thing in the "left rail" is an image of that asset I added... so it looks really odd.

This is only an issue on desktop, not on mobile.

It creates an additional problem when I add an Article as a Child Asset to another Article. Now, since I'm in the Parent Article, it's not too much trouble to simply place each Child Article into the body of the Parent Article. But it has now affected the alignment in all of those Child Articles -- because it added the Parent Asset to the "left rail" for each of those Child Articles! So now I have to go back into each of the Child Articles and drop the new Parent into the body of those articles, to fix that alignment.

This is terribly cumbersome and awfully time-consuming, but it's necessary if I don't want most of my articles to be misaligned on desktop view.

The easy fix is to create a default that adds all Related Assets into a horizontal "block" at the end of each article.