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.

Anyone have any suggestions on how to best handle quickly-updating stories?

Kyle Whitfield 4 years ago in BLOX CMS updated by khart 7 months ago 12

So let me pose this scenario:

We've got a story on our the site. Let's say the New Orleans Saints are making roster cuts on deadline day. Our guys are updating their story w/ new player names every couple of minutes. The story tells readers to 'check back frequently' or 'reload the page' for the latest info. How can we best display this info in BLOX so that people who visit a page frequently during a breaking story actually see the most up-to-date info?


Here is the doc which discusses how you can use flags to reduce caching times for important articles:


As the doc says, there are a few limitations, but in general you'll get updates about every minute or so.

However! Note that this does not affect the users' local browser cache. That is still subject to a 5-minute cache. (You could, if you could find the right words, tell users to force reload the page. It is different in different browsers though, so I'm not sure if there could be an elegant way to say this.)

So this doesn't really work for "live blogging" - but it should address the needs of corrections and story updates and breaking news that you want to push to the front page.

We did have a discussion internally today about some enhancements we can make to bring us closer to having some kind of live blogging environment... I will look into that as a possible future feature.


Search User Comments

Kevin M. Cox 7 months ago in BLOX CMS 0

Had a new question from a reader we haven't gotten before. They wanted a way to specifically search through user comments across the site.

Has this ever been considered before?


Request: Apply End Date to Polls, but still show results.

Jeff Sebestyen 7 months ago in BLOX CMS 0

We have been voting on this feature for over 3 years,  I would assume the would be common functionality.  Ending a poll manually or automatically after the ballot has run it's course.  I am asking incase I am missing something.  Otherwise please consider this a request.  


Unify Account/Login Creation and Subscription Purchase into a single step/page

mcgregora 8 months ago in BLOX CMS updated by Rich Griffin | Product Manager (Product Manager) 8 months ago 2

Making a feature request for the ability to have the purchase subscription page also capture account (login) creation information and establish that user profile in a singe step-page-process ... thus eliminating the multi-step process of a site visitor having to first create an account before he/she can actually purchase a subscription.

This would enhance the user experience and eliminate a bottleneck/bail out point in the subscriber acquisition process.

Please support this post so it climbs the feature request ladder faster.



Beta testers needed urgently for two initiatives

Christine Masters (Director of BLOX CMS) 8 months ago in BLOX CMS updated 8 months ago 1

Hi everyone!

We are looking for someone to beta test two urgent initiatives we are working on…

Firstly, a “Support Local Journalism” page which will ask readers to contribute money or subscribe in order to support journalism during this time. It can be paired with messaging throughout the site that says something like, “We are providing coronavirus coverage without a subscription out of public interest.” And then a link to contribute or subscribe if they want to help.

Secondly, we have a new Photo Sales vendor (Fotomoto) to replace the other one, which is currently down.

If you are interested in helping with either - or both - initiatives, we just need a site for testing, and some of your time to provide feedback.

Each of these items will require some minor set up on your side, such as creating a new account with Fotomoto and Donorbox.org, and possibly connecting a Paypal or Stripe account for payments.

I realize this is a crazy time, but if you feel you have the time to help us test these things, we can do almost all of the work (except for setting up the accounts and reviewing the work) for you!

Let me know if you are interested!


Omit categories of items from search

KetchikanJ 8 months ago in BLOX CMS updated 8 months ago 0

An option to prevent the following from appearing in blank/null searches 

or searches including Articles + Images: 

• Photos that are both child assets and don't have a section tag assigned to them •


1. What problem(s) does this idea solve?


Prevents duplicate photo resources from being displayed (often alongside each other) in searches. 


There are photo child assets that are technically required to have titles, those are usually the assets whose titles we want the least visible. Asset titles are effectively hidden unless a search is performed.

2. How often would you use this feature?


When I run a blank/null search to chronologically see what users will see.


I sometimes direct users to blank/null searches when they want to see a chronological list of content.

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


I would likely be the only one internally.


Flex search utility not indexing authors

Eman Elshahawy 8 months ago in BLOX CMS 0

There's currently no feature that allows author names of articles to be indexed by the search utility. It only works if the byline is entered in manually as opposed to adding an author by registered user account with the CMS. The only way to access a curation of all of the author's articles is to find an article they wrote and click on their author name, where it prompts to a url address like this www.siteaddress.com/users/profile/authorfirstname%20lastname/

Under review

Staff Directories / Newsletter sign up pages

Crindalyn Lyster 1 year ago in BLOX CMS updated by Thomas Martinez 8 months ago 8

Does anyone have examples of staff directory pages they've created outside of static HTML pages on their sites? How about newsletter list landing pages that are more than the out of the box "list" of newsletters available. 


Webinar | Tips and resources for weathering the coronavirus crisis

Cherry Wolf (Marketing specialist) 9 months ago in BLOX CMS updated 9 months ago 1

Webinar recording now available.

At this special webinar, the TownNews team shared ideas and best practices for serving your audience and generating revenue during the coronavirus pandemic.

Topics included:

  • How to quickly build a high-traffic special section to cover breaking news with BLOX CMS.
  • Leveraging the TownNews Content Exchange Network to augment your local coronavirus coverage with nationwide content.
  • Using subscription rules to disable your paywall/meter for specific sections of your site.
  • Hosting virtual business and career fairs to strengthen ties to your community and grow revenue.
  • Using programmatic advertising—and the expertise of the iQ Ad Ops team—to generate incremental revenue from breaking news traffic spikes.

Ready to get started? Watch it now.


Set up "SPONSORED" content flag to flow into email newsletters

Bruce Potter 9 months ago in BLOX CMS 0

"Sponsored content" is becoming a larger part of news organizations' revenue offerings to advertisers. But it's important that sponsored content be flagged as such in all formats to ensure the reader can differentiate between what is sponsored and what is actual news content. So we use the "SPONSORED" flag when posting articles through BLOX. However, when we pull articles into an email newsletter, the "SPONSORED" flag does not show up in the newsletter, so the content appears in the newsletter just like any other editorial content. We'd just like the option to have the "SPONSORED" flag show up in the newsletter, and ideally, for the sponsored content to be somehow distinguished, such as a shaded background. This would avoid confusing the reader and keep the delineation clear between actual news content and sponsored content.


More fine-tuned controls on "Buy Now" buttons on photos

Graham R. Archer 4 years ago in BLOX CMS updated by Christine Masters (Director of BLOX CMS) 9 months ago 6

Hey folks, I submitted an idea to Town News, and they said I should post it here to see if this development idea would help others, too. Anything else think this would be helpful?

The idea is basically to add a few new controls — either on the section level or on specific photo types — to allow editors to turn off the "buy now" button on all mugs, all crime stories, or other examples like that.

Town News asked me to answer these questions:

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

A: There are dozens of photos used daily on our website that we do not want to sell. Many of these get automated tags that remove the "buy now" button (AP photos, for instance), and that's great. But still a large number of photos get manually tagged with #nosale to keep that button hidden. It would be very helpful to have more specific, targeted and automated ways to blacklist some photos from being sold. For instance, we NEVER want to sell a photo of a criminal who just committed some heinous crime. And a huge number of the mugs we run on our website are handouts that we can't sell, and even the ones that are ours are not any real source of revenue. My proposal would be that we have some ability to turn on/off the "Buy now" button for specific photo types (like all mugs) or sections (so you could turn off sales for all photos attached to stories categorized as crime, for example).

How often would you use this feature?

A: This would be used daily. The automated button removal would impact dozens of stories and several dozen photos each day.

How many people in your organization would use this feature?

A: All online editors would gain from this function, and reporters would no longer have to alert online staff to photos that got missed during the tedious and error-prone manual #nosale application process. Dozens of employees would be impacted.


Hi guys!

We have now added more logic to our "automated" photo sales option. See this updated doc:


We have also added the ability to turn off photo sales per section (via custom properties), as well as batch update photo sales.

Hope this helps!



Copying e-Edition pages from one edition rto the next

lmcbride 9 months ago in BLOX CMS 0

We have five pages that we want to add to the daily e-Edition, Each page has segmented areas that link to interactive puzzles on our website. We want the ability to copy these pages from one e-Edition to another without  having to re-segment the pages each day.

Under review

Facebook comment count

Nick 5 years ago in BLOX CMS updated by anonymous 9 months ago 8
It seems like the comment count when using Facebook comments don't display the number of comments when viewing a list of assets in a block like "asset index: headline list" or "asset index: main index." It would be really nice to be able to display the number of comments to encourage readers to check the comments others have left. I know sometimes I will click on an article even if I know the story just to see what other people are saying.
Michael Becker 5 years ago

TownNews actually rolled out a comment count for Facebook, so I rolled back my customizations. Your comment dashboard would be at https://developers.facebook.com/tools/comments/YOUR_APP_ID_HERE

Under review

Elections 2020 - what would your media organization want?

Joe Hansen (Product manager) 1 year ago in BLOX CMS updated 9 months ago 12

We are considering building a new "simple" elections platform for the 2020 election cycle and beyond. This would be more streamlined and easy to use than the old Election Stats, and would include AP election data for state and national elections, leaving you to focus on local. You'd still need to update your local race results as often as you want to make them available for your visitors, but the state and national would be automatic.

I'd love to hear your feedback and thoughts on what you would like to see. Is this something your site could use?

What functionality would you want in such a product?

How are you currently handling election results?


Blox Now App story list does not refresh automatically.

Jeff Sebestyen 10 months ago in BLOX CMS 0

I have been noticing that on the Blox Now App, a story will not show up unless the user either force closes the app, or manually refreshes the feed by hitting the refresh button in the menu.   

I had a story post to Blox at 1:13pm.  At 2:15pm I opened my app and the article wasn't there.   I had to manually refresh my feed.  I realize some operating systems put background apps to sleep under different variables and behaviors my differ.  I do not expect a typical user to force close an app or have to manually refresh the feed.  

I would like a feature request for future versions to refresh the users feed after a certain amount of time whether the app is open, closed, or asleep in the background.