Welcome to TownNews.com's customer community! Connect with other TownNews.com customers and with us to suggest features, share best practices and ask questions.

Though TownNews.com representatives often participate in discussions, this is not a customer service site. For immediate help, call 800-293-9576 or submit a support request via our online ticketing system.

Video cover art

Ryan Dorgan 22 hours ago in BLOX CMS 0

Would love to be able to feature short video clips/loops or even gif files as cover art to be used in the longform presentation. Would this be possible?


Better way to auto populate venues in BLOX calendar tool?

Kyle Whitfield 3 weeks ago in BLOX CMS • updated by Phil Pracht (Product Manager) 4 days ago 7

Giving the BLOX calendar tool a try on our website. Disappointed to see there's no good way to help auto-populate a venue from biz listings in an event asset outside from the 10-15 I'm told we could store in the venue library. What can we do to find a better workflow for this? We're talking about several hundred event listings per week in print pulling from thousands of biz listing entries.


Hey Kyle!

The Business Directory can be used as a "business hub" without using it on the front end. This way, you can associate Calendar events with venues, and businesses with banner ads, and so forth. Personally though, I would look into the Calendar upsell functionality - it's a great reason to get the full directory.

The venue library in Calendar is meant to be a "quick list" of your most commonly used businesses. You can have more than 10 - 15... there is not a physical limit it's just more that at some point it becomes unwieldy. It does put listings in alphabetical order and allows for type-ahead. But it isn't meant to be a database of listings.

But in general, I would use the Business Directory for most listings, and then the venue library for the ones you're using like every day to save you a few clicks. The venue library is useful for when you're entering things in manually.

Hope this helps!


Keyword Tag Links

Angela Mabe 6 days ago in BLOX CMS • updated by Kevin M. Cox 6 days ago 1

Feature Request - Ability to edit the keyword tag links. Instead of clicking the keyword tag and having it go to a generic search page what if it could go to a link you tell it to. For instance you are running an article on garage sales, well why not have that key word link to the classifieds section for garage sales.  

Under review

GDPR and EAA/EU availability

Rob Weir 2 months ago in BLOX CMS • updated by Phil Pracht (Product Manager) 1 week ago 16

Is there a timeline or plan for when sites might be available in the EAA/EU again? I know that the Missourian is somewhat of an outlier, being at a journalism school, but we have a large number of alums and readers in the EU, and also send profs over there to teach quite often. Our London and Brussels programs would sure like to be able to view our content. 

(I know everyone is dealing with this, I don't mean it to be a knock at all, but just want to know what to tell people when they ask me.) 

thanks, Rob 


Restrict site search utility block to a specific URL/tag

Nick 2 weeks ago in BLOX CMS • updated by Christine Masters (Director of Product Management) 2 weeks ago 4

I want to create a microsite on my main website. And I'd like a search block on that page that will only search assets on that specific URL. I can't do that with the "Utility: Site Search" block. I can do that with the "Utility: Site Search Range" block but I'm forced to also include a date range. It would be fine if it defaulted to "any day" but it doesn't. You have to actually set it to "any day" or it will search a smaller time frame. So it seems like the range block has an option the regular block doesn't. Can this be fixed?


Hey Nick,

Both the "Utility: Site Search" and the "Utility: Site Search Range" have a search URL override option.

If you don't see it - perhaps you have a customized version because we did add the Site search version after the Site Search range block. 

Note that by default our system will look for the FIRST search-based URL that it sees in order to perform a search. I believe that if this happens we have ways to fix it in all cases now, but if you have a situation where you create a special search URL for "archives" and then find that obits is now re-directing them when you search - then you need to go through and force the other searches into the alphabetically inferior URL.

And, this works really great for obits! The Search Range block was actually specifically made for obits. Firstly, our testing shows that many obits users just want to browse to the last few days of obits, so that's why the ranges are set up that way. And, search is very popular in obits, so having a separate search URL can help with a few things:

1. You can set up your search to be obituaries/search. This way, all of the search traffic actually stays within the obituaries umbrella so you can track it together in terms of analytics.

2. You can assign specialty ads to the search pages, separately from your other search pages. So, you can sell an obits package that gets impressions on the obits index page, article pages and search pages.

In theory, you could do this with recipes as well.

Let me know if you still can't find this and I can look at your site.


Weather inconsistency

Kevin M. Cox 1 month ago in BLOX CMS • updated by Christine Masters (Director of Product Management) 2 weeks ago 5

We just had a reader point out this inconsistency and I'm wondering if anyone else has ever noticed it on their site. In particular this is with the Email Reach | Email: Weather today block.

I've checked past emails and it seems to be consistently in disagreement with itself. Note the high temperature of 102 in red under the graphic and compare it with the "Highs in the upper 80s..." right below it and the "High 89F" in the text forecast at right.


This fix is now available.


Print view shows ads on FLEX

Nick 2 years ago in BLOX CMS • updated 2 weeks ago 6

Someone just alerted me to the fact that when you click the print icon in a FLEX article the printout includes all of the in-story ads AND any hovering ads. The hovering ads are on every page, usually blocking content.

With Zen when the user clicked the print icon they were taken to a page with "?mode=print" trailing the URL. This mode stripped all of the other elements of the page save for the story and any child assets. It was great.

Here's what FLEX printing looks like...


I will enter this as a bug ticket so we'll fix it. Thanks!


Infinity Scroll - Card: Summary blocks - Safari

Kevin M. Cox 4 weeks ago in BLOX CMS • updated 3 weeks ago 4

I'm very happy to see this new option: 

Encourage engagement with new Infinity Scroll option on "Card: Summary" block

In my testing it seems to be working great in Chrome and Firefox, but not in Safari (desktop or mobile). The little spinning loading graphic just sits there and never loads any other content.

Has anyone else seen this issue on their site? Is it a known issue?

Safari accounts for 42% of our traffic so we need to make sure the feature is working there before enabling it across the site.



Hi guys!

Thanks for reporting this. Yes, we've confirmed this is an issue and it is fixed in the next upcoming release.


Package Blocks

Kevin M. Cox 3 weeks ago in BLOX CMS 0

Present breaking news or enterprise projects with new "package" block

Once y'all start using this new block on your site I'd love to see some samples. Please share them here if you remember!


Webinar | Google News Initiative fundamentals training for BLOX CMS

Cherry Wolf (Marketing specialist) 2 months ago in BLOX CMS • updated 3 weeks ago 2

Watch the recording now.

From reverse image search to trends and alerts, this course teaches practical skills for reporting in the digital age. Nicholas Whitaker, training and development manager for Google News Lab, presented a Google News Initiative fundamentals crash course specifically for BLOX CMS users.

Topics included how to:

  • Finding stories and terms gaining attention.
  • Giving important context by building interactive maps.
  • Checking the authenticity of an eyewitness photo or video.
  • . . . and much more.

Ready to learn more about Google News tools? Watch the recording now.


Subscription Coupon Code

Kevin M. Cox 4 years ago in BLOX CMS • updated by Mary Shepard 4 weeks ago 15
We would like to request the option of having a "Coupon Code" function available for new subscriptions on the website.

We envision being able to link specific codes to specific subscription services (e.g. a code would allow a discount on a 7 day print subscription but not on a weekend only).

To be fully functional, the code should include options to select either: $ off, % off or length of free trial.

This would be a huge tool for our circulation/promotions department and we imagine would be a welcome addition for other newspapers as well.

--> Why we're asking:

To give a little more background I thought it might be helpful to give a specific use case. While we see tons of potential for this feature, there is a specific promotion we're trying to develop in the next month and are having trouble seeing a way to do it with the current system.

We're planning on a new subscription marketing push for our newspaper. We'd like to offer potential subscribers a free trial subscription (either print and/or online) to the paper.

In order to make things as easy as possible we'd like them to be able to sign-up online (create a new BLOX user account) and instantly begin their online trial (get behind the paywall) without having to enter a credit card. At the end of their trial period of course we'll offer to make them a subscriber and collect their payment information.

A "coupon code" function seems like the best way to make this happen but of course we are open to suggestions if we can already pull off something similar with existing tools. For example: Is there a way to link directly to a hidden subscription service?

Please let me know what y'all think.


Upgrade needed in system

Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe 1 month ago in BLOX CMS • updated 4 weeks ago 3

Please add the capability of embedding from DocumentCloud.org. They have developed powerful journalism tools that go beyond the usual PDF. Thank you. 


Does anyone have experience with VisionData for online subscriptions?

Nick 4 weeks ago in BLOX CMS 0

We currently use VisionData for our home delivery circulation management. The intent was to switch online subscriptions over to VisionData too. I'm hesitant to make this switch because it will undoubtedly cause a massive drop-off when everyone who was once on auto-renew has to set up a new subscription in a different system. Their support has also never been stellar. Does anyone here have experience using VisionData for managing online subscriptions?


Feature request: URL/titles for SEO

Kyle Whitfield 2 years ago in BLOX CMS • updated 1 month ago 19

Instead of URLs picking up an asset's title then generating new URLs when titles are changed, could we consider an SEO title field where an editor could manually define a phrase that would appear in a URL? And the URL wouldn't change as the asset's headline changes?

Example: Story about mass shooting in Baton Rouge

SEO/URL title: Baton Rouge mall shooting
Article asset title: 5 dead in Baton Rouge mall shooting

URL (that wouldn't change): theadvocate.com/baton_rouge/news/baton_rouge_mall_shooting/XYZABC123.html

Right now we shy away from opting for titles in URLs b/c of the mess it creates with multiple URLs per asset.

This would be used very often by us.


Hi guys!

We had a release yesterday which added part of this feature, but it doesn't do everything that is discussed here in this first version.

But, for now, we see two use cases:

==> 1. Publisher has a bad or short title on their article, but they want to be able to expand it in the URL.

So maybe, for some cutesy reason the title of the story is "M13," so your URL would look like this:


Note that we automatically remove numbers, because they are more likely to change, so you end up with a stupid-looking URL basically, with just "m" there!

In these cases, you may want to be able to change the title or change the URL so that you can create something that is more SEO-friendly, and also user friendly (if you share the "m" URL above, it doesn't have any good keywords or let you know anything about it).

Buy with this URL title feature, you can go in there and type something that can be used instead. So you end up with this:


Note that it allows the number to be in there, so that makes things more clear in some cases (like m13 where you need that for SEO, really).

Note that, in theory, it could go the other way as well. You might have a page that has a long page title, but you wanted it to be shorter or more precise (again, for SEO and for usability), you could do that also.

==> 2. Publisher would like their URLs to remain static so it doesn't mess up statistics or other external services such as Facebook comments.

In this situation, it's more that you want the URL to remain the same for statistics, rather than that you want to "fix" it from some unattractive state. The new feature is meant to address the situation above, but it is not likely to fix the statistics issue.

A few thoughts there:

Firstly, software like Chartbeat and Parsley can be updated to key off of the article UUID instead of the URL. 

This will mean that they will all be tracked together regardless of section or title change.

Secondly, we are looking at doing some kind of permanent URL that would remain frozen, but we haven't agreed yet what that would look like. 

Wordpress has a little Edit button that allows this (like Kevin's example). Basically, after the title is written, a few seconds later it populates the "permalink" slug area. If you edit it after it is published, it creates a 404 (that you can fix if you create a 301 redirect manually, it sounds like).

So, in our situation, we could possibly do something like that...

The problem is that BLOX is a little different because many users will actually write content in BLOX that may span many days. It is common that you see an asset in the system that has a start date of 2037 and the title is "Second story about the mayor TK" or whatever. So, in those cases, you'd theoretically end up with that in your URL, even if you change your title later.

It is possible we could tie the URL creation to a workflow status... i.e. it doesn't auto-fill the URL until it its a publish state, and then it freezes.

I have also seen some CMSes where they will have a "generate URL" button that, when pressed, will generate the URL and freeze it.

Interested to hear your thoughts...


Webinar | Introducing BLOX Now, a better mobile app for local media

Cherry Wolf (Marketing specialist) 2 months ago in BLOX CMS • updated by Nick 1 month ago 3

Webinar recording now available.

Taking cues from social media, the BLOX Now mobile app eschews conventional news app design in favor of a single, continuously-scrolling stream of community news and events that keeps users engaged. At our June customer webinar, Susan Bell, BLOX Now senior product manager, and Christine Masters, director of product management, introduced the BLOX Now mobile app.

Topics included:

  • Increasing user engagement with a hybrid news and information app.

  • Feature highlights, including: in-stream video playback, push notifications, and convenient fly-out menus.

  • Monetizing your app with Google DFP integration.

  • Managing your app, website, and mobile site in one easy workflow.

  • . . . and much more.

Are you ready to get started . . . now? Webinar recording now available.