Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Apply for a Knight Foundation Journalism Challenge Award!

The Journalism 360 Challenge seeks ideas that help expand best practices in immersive journalism, including narratives, ethics and production. And it's the last call for applications! 
Journalism 360 is a joint initiative of Knight Foundation, Google News Initiative and Online News Association. Winners will receive a share of $200,000 for early-stage projects that address the question: How might we experiment with immersive storytelling to advance the field of journalism? It is open to anyone; news organizations, businesses, nonprofits and individuals anywhere in the world can submit an idea.
To apply and for more information, go to this page and answer a few questions by tomorrow, June 28 at 11:59 p.m. ET. For more information take a look at this press release. Follow #journalism360 on Twitter for updates and sign up for the new Journalism 360 newsletter.

Friday, April 6, 2018

The Newspaper Industry Should be Ashamed of its Classifieds Debachle.

Without regard to recent disruption, the underlying product that I used may quite possibly be one of the worst digital products I've come in contact with recently...

I had agreed to promote an 'estate sale' for a close family friend as the go-to 'guy with the internet' and it went pretty well save a bit too much chit-chat with some charmingly peculiar  'pickers' and the homeowner losing his cool when he found a scavenger in the bathroom of his elegant home rifling through his wife's medications. The latter resulted in the home-owner's voice booming through the house "Everyone get out, I have a firearm!" which, as he is an attorney, I assumed was carefully chosen legalese as more of a declaration than threat but gosh did it prove to be very effective for the otherwise socially awkward crowd.

The Story
I decided to run a 'classified' for a 'garage sale' in the well-respected newspaper in the capital of a famous and wealthy state.

Too much time...
The process began smoothly enough but page-refreshes for every minor event felt a bit strained and eventually I hit a wall pretty hard right at the finish line.

Luckily I was sharing my office space with a cadre of developers and digital entrepreneurs which seems to have zero'd the productivity. Although the process took over an hour, I admit some efficiency was lost due to the spectators' constant comical commentary, but this time was recovered by the developers' ability to help me 'turn off' some extensions and re-enable some other 'content settings' which seemed to be the trick needed to be able to give them my money.

At one point we all turned simultaneously and silently to the new guy after stating 'it may be one of those sites where you have to use Internet Explorer.' He recovered some dignity by noting that I was using AdBlock, a sign of his intelligence as it could obviously hinder the tech in basic ad operations products...

All in the process took 1 hour from decision to 'receipt' (more on that in a minute).

Too much money...
Once we could technically pay the newspaper, the 'add-ons' (additional letters that created additional words?) and extra maneuvers added up to $93.00. This was about 4x what I expected but I had invested an hour which is key to these types of sales as you begin to feel an arctic adventurer in the funnel...  'well team, we've gone this far, we might as well reach the pole'.

The odd thing was that I couldn't see a link to the ad published online with the actual receipt.

Way too sexy (My own delusion)
I later got a call from a random number and atypically answered only to find out it was from a human member of the classifieds team. The team member's voice was forwarded to my hangouts and was beautiful, with the connection being crystal clear. "What is happening?" I wondered. Did she google me? Have I not changed my social profiles to 'married' or did she not see the kids' photos on Instragram? I have gotten so old and boring, trading adventure for family and settling down... Is it wrong to feel so good for being flattered? Is this how the heart strays? I am not a typically handsome man but a French woman once called me 'ugly pretty' and said some women really like that... Is this voice on the phone a living fan of 'ugly pretty' men? I am going to have to nip this in the bud. I am a loyal man. I will never stray.


Apparently the call was to ask if was really a garage sale or if it was technically an 'estate' sale. There also appears to be an extra charge if the items are owned by more than one person. The old 'multi family' it's called in that business. I felt like I was getting shaken down for an extra $40 and asked her why I couldn't see my ad online. She told me 'the system' wouldn't publish it until the morning.  It was a little strange that I had to pay for 4 days even though I only needed 2 and it left a bad taste in my mouth to  also discover that in a town of almost 400,000 people, the digital classified was limited to a max of 10,000 impressions which as a CPM seems steep. I didn't buy a paper to check, but I was told that though the digital classified was live, it missed a day in the printed paper.

Way to easy to replicate
Once I learned that the digital ad wouldn't be visible until the next morning, I decided to put 90 seconds into a Craigslist post adding actual photos instead of a convoluted shared gallery's tinyurl that was used to save space on the classified. As craigslist also facilitates communication, the homeowner sold almost everything that he decided was worthy of being photographed before the ad in the paper even ran including a hand-made Adirondack Guide Canoe that won 3rd prize in Wooden Boat Magazine 2004 and a ton of hand-crafted furniture, art, and antique fly fishing equipment.

The results (for everyone involved)
I was one of only two 'estate' sales in the paper that week. As a genius I have determined the paper has generated at least $186 with these two ads, although they use a vendor platform to manage the process so this revenue may be split.  At 70/30 that leaves $130, which some went to wages and benefits for my gorgeous stalker who ended up getting skunked on the $40 up-sell. I am not sure this made them any money at all actually, and it definitely would have cost them money if I called even once to complain or for a make-good.

The consumers who may focus exclusively on the paper for these types of notifications definitely missed out on everything good, and in fact almost everything worthy of a photograph was already sold by the time the classified went live. I never even tried Facebook's marketplace for him.

For the home-owner, I will say he did get some attention from professional scavengers offering flat-fees to 'clean-up' the mess and keep everything after the sale as they just assume that only a rich guy is buying these ads so even his garbage is probably worth something.

A proposed solution
Let me say first that I truly LOVE my local paper, its owner, its writers, and the community. The content is spectacular and I am proud of them, but I am currently not missing anything by not subscribing and with so many competing subscriptions in the modern world, I will probably not become one any time soon.

For my situation exclusively, I honestly think it would have made a ton more sense to sell me the 'all access digital' subscription (for essentially the same price) set on an auto-renew and throw in the classified (or a dozen for that matter) and get as close to me as possible as a rabid consumer of content, a member of the community, and a true supporter of their respectable mission.

Instead they got twenty bucks and my being polite by not naming them in a comical note.

- James Pavoldi

I seldom criticize harshly and publicly as matter of self-preservation lest I ever find myself working with or for a previously named buffoon, but I can honestly say that if I ever enter this space it will be as a dream (and investment) destroyer for the incumbents.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

"Fake News" vs "Feisty Headlines" in Professional Media…

Were local broadcasters the most level-headed in the recent Clinton / Trump headline game?

James Pavoldi

For 20 years I’ve been well positioned and effective in the content and syndication economy with a unique expertise in media monitoring and broadcast intelligence.

I now find myself home for the holidays and like many of my peers, my extended family tends to be confused by exactly what I do day-to-day, and know simply that I “do something with news and the Internet”.   Although I can talk endlessly about content if someone seems interested in the space (I have been accused of talking endlessly about content with someone just because they made eye contact); it’s rare that anyone outside of the industry asks me non-rhetorical questions about “the news” as a concept and seems genuinely interested in my answers…

One statement I’ve found myself repeatedly making while discussing the current state of affairs is that the actual news, the meat of the stories if you read them in full, is still pretty good. Whether this is a CYA maneuver or actual journalistic integrity can be debated, but the fact is that ‘the facts’ do tend to be present for those who consume the entire product. 

The headlines (vs the facts) are another beast altogether and in some cases ‘the facts’ seem to be more of a correction on page 2 that actually counter the message in the "feisty" headline… I found myself repeatedly saying that I felt local broadcasters seemed to be the most level-headed headline writers during the election cycle and I set out to gather evidence and see if my hunch was supported.

I elected to focus on a topic and a time-frame, and gather the headlines from a cable news provider (news content only, avoiding editorial or pundit / entertainer segments), a major US newspaper, a major ‘new media’ news destination, and an aggregate of 100 local broadcasters outside of the top 50 DMA’s.

I found that both “Clinton” and “Trump”, when reduced to topics used in headlines, were presented so frequently that using them as the topic for this experiment was a bit overwhelming. I chose instead to cover Donald Trump’s running mate “Mike Pence” as his name, as a trending news topic, was a bit easier to digest manually. I was originally going to focus on Hillary Clinton’s running mate, Tim Kaine, as I felt he was even more obscure, but he unfortunately stayed obscure even during the campaign.  Although Tim Kaine seemed perpetually available for interviews, he didn’t seem to engender much activity in the newsrooms I intended to monitor, and the coverage he did get seemed to focus simply on his existence in a specific place at a specific time.

The following is a small sample of the top headlines in each category of producer:


  • Democrats Rally Against Pence
  • Donald Trump disagrees with VP nominee Pence on Syria
  • Gov. Pence on terrorism, Orlando and Trump
  • Governor Pence Responds To Abortion Ruling
  • Many Republican lawmakers are reacting to the FBI's recommendation, including Indiana Governor Mike Pence.
  • Trump and Pence talked about firing up the economy Mike Pence said the war on coal must be brought to an end.
  • Pence on church tax
  • Vice presidential candidates Republican Mike Pence and Democrat Tim Kaine went face to face in a debate in Farmville, Virginia, speaking on a variety of issues.
  • Mike Pence Compares Trump to Reagan
  • As hundreds of supporters rallied with Republican Vice Presidential candidate Mike Pence Wednesday, Hillary Clinton supporters did what they could to slow Pence's momentum.
  • Political Analyst Don ****** gave us his insights on Tuesday night's Vice Presidential debate between Republican Mike Pence and Democrat Tim Kaine.


  • Mike Pence's new neighbors put up LGBT pride flags in protest
  • Mike Pence: I'm getting 'whiff of desperation' from Democrats
  • Top LGBT Republican group declines to endorse Donald Trump
  • Mike Pence has own woes with women
  • What a Trump presidency could mean for LGBT Americans
  • Mike Pence: I never considered leaving Trump ticket
  • Mike Pence tests role as Donald Trump's chief message man
  • Trump-Pence: A ticket with two right wings


  • An appeal to Mike Pence: Leave your anti-LGBT views behind 
  • Being a gay Republican: 'Is this a party that even wants me?'
  • Gays can be reformed, just like arsonists, Trump's new domestic policy
  • Pence's role in Trump's campaign: Be to the GOP what Donald Trump
  • The mind-set that drives fear, hate and Donald Trump
  • What it means that Mike Pence called himself an 'evangelical Catholic
  • What's up with all the gay rights shout-outs at the Republican
  • While Trump stays out of it, GOP platform tacks to the right on gay
  • Trump has a problem with female voters. Pence could make it even


  • The Mike Pence (Donald Trump) Assault On LGBTQ Equality
  • Mike Pence: Even More Extreme Than Donald Trump
  • Mike Pence's Blatant Anti-LGBT Extremism Completely Ignored
  • 6 Reasons Why Mike Pence Is Awful For Queer People 
  • Think Trump Is Scary? Check Out Mike Pence On The Issues. 
  • Don't Be Shocked. Mike Pence Has Always Been A Bigot.
  • Mike Pence Could Be Your Worst Nightmare
  • The Dangers Of Conversion Therapy To The LGBTQ Community
  • Mike Pence's Long History of Bigotry and Intolerance

I was pleasantly surprised to find that all 4 camps have moved away from the “Viral Nova” method of headline writing (You have seen these strategically penned hooks before; imagine something like:

 “Mike Pence was OK with the theory of Gravity until THIS happened!” 

(often complete with image of a moist octopus tentacle wrapped around a flux capacitor or some other image that’s humanly impossible-not-to-notice).

I discovered another trend accidentally, one that I will cover in a separate piece regarding “Fake News vs the Far-Fetched”, in which some topics continued to get attention from trusted sources after they were already resolved or at least skeptically investigated by one or more of the newly empowered social-fact checkers…  

Just as one topical example (at the risk of sounding like some type of odd-duck cheerleader for local broadcasters or heaven-forbid a cheerleader for 'Mike Pence'), local broadcasters did seem to be the only group who did not recently use the phrase “electroshock therapy” in their core news product (broadcast video or owned text).

Even if I were to be lost at sea tomorrow, this topic will be a hot one in 2017 so get the popcorn ready. 

Disclaimer: I have dedicated substantial energy to evangelizing the idea of, and building products to facilitate a method of, owned-content sharing and curation between sister stations in a group to create high-quality and commercially valuable news products. By encouraging aggregation to create digital packages of national interest like 'politics' as outlined here, a possibility exists for me to benefit professionally from an increased enthusiasm in the strategy.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Video News Playlist Code for Blogger (Blogspot) "Gadgets" - Step by Step instructions

Blogger gadgets are simple to use and many of the free templates accomodate 300x600 video playlists perfectly.

The most customizable and targeted video widgets can be made using logic and embed code from syndication platforms such as

Here are the instructions for building a vertical video channel using ClipSyndicate's local broadcast news tools and Blogger's "HTML/JavaScript Gadget" as a right column page element:

We can use the following as the use case:
I am a blogger who posts news on "Fishing" and want to add a "Fishing News Video" widget to my blog.

  •  I want to make sure the content is relevant
  •  I want the content to refresh automatically
  •  I want the content to be professional / news only

Step 1.
Create an account and log in at

Step 2.
Go to "Advanced Search" and elect to use "Boolean" in the options tab

Start with a simple search, such as (title:fishing)

You can experiment with more keywords if need be (title:(fish* or fishing or fisherman))

Save these results (we can modify the logic later) by clicking "publish this channel" and give it a name such as "fishing news feed"

A quick review of the results will show some hits and misses that are easily corrected.

Let's assume that stemming the word "fish*" is just too broad and the only peripherally relevant clips are easily removed...

Now we might settle on something that looks like this:

(title:(fishing or fisherman)) -compliments -recipe

Step 3.
Once the changes to the search are saved, you have the opportunity to publish the channel and grab the vertical embed code.
Paste this code in a txt file (no word wrap) and save it for later.
(You can also access these saved searches by logging in and going to the "My ClipSyndicate" tab)

Step 4.
Log into your Blogger account and select your Fishing blog from your blog list.
Click on the "layout" button in the left nav (under the "new post" button) you should see the opportunity to "Add a Gadget" if your blog is set up with columns.

Step 5.
Click the "Add A Gadget" link and scroll to select the HTML/JavaScript 'gadget by blogger'.
When this opens, you can give it a custom title and paste the player code into the "content" box.

Step 6.
Save and preview. You may want to edit the gadget, depending on the width of your columns, to make it match the rest of your column content by simply changing the width of the player code (from 320, to 300 as an example).

Step 7.
Arrange the gadget's placement in relation to your others by simply dragging it into the correct location based on your other gadgets' priority then "save arrangement."

Your video channel should now be live on the blog...

Fish on!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Using the Video Search API; Sample Returns, Tips using "Private" Identifiers, and Basic Logic (Part 1 of 3)

The video search API is a simple way to interact with a massive collection of assets and has tremendous potential for creative developers whose goal is to deepen engagement with relevant video.

I will provide a quick overview below using my own API 'Key' and 'Secret' which will work for most applications but I urge you to contact me if you'd like to get your own key authorized and modify the player as well.

Use Case:
I will be editing a blog specializing in the curation of local police video news from local broadcasters and newspapers and I'd like an automated way to include additional relevant video on any post based on the post's parent topic.

 Before we proceed, note that I will use RSS but that XML and JSON are available simply by swapping initials in the 'format' parameter.

The request as follows contains a key (that I can authorize) and a 'secret' which is an MD5 Hash of your password.

The following request is broken down to display the key and secret, the RSS preference in format, and the ability to paginate through results of 50 videos per page. This request is asking for any video where the word "police" appears in the title, description, or tags...

The capacity for pagination is important as some requests in the 'news' vertical like "police" have over 175,000 results just in the past few years using only local broadcasters' as a filter.

To broaden the search (in cases where human-curated news / tips gathering is the goal) we can include 'transcript' in the default title/descrip/tags search:

&search_string=(police OR transcript:police)

There are methods for including (or exclusively requesting) keywords as they appear in "speech to text" version of the transcripts but I would prefer to work with you on those directly rather than publish them as this application may be more appropriate for monitoring the use of keywords only peripherally relevant to the asset as opposed to gathering relevant video.

In cases where automated publishing is the goal the net can be tightened by looking only for keywords in title:



Adding "private" identifiers such as provider type (wire, broadcaster, newspaper, radio) or provider-specific ID's.

While interacting with 600 provider-specific ID's can be of use and I can share these ID's on request, I find it's more common to limit the request to 'types' of video content providers rather than individual producers.  Whereas '4' may be wires and '3' may be cable; I am most interested in local broadcast (type ID 2)  and 'local newspapers (type ID 8).

The following request is looking for local broadcaster and newspaper content only and only where the keyword "police" is used in the title of the video's metadata:

&search_string=((provider_type_id:2 OR provider_type_id:8) AND title:(police))

I am now confident that my request for video news from trusted sources and only when 'police' is used in title is working, but after having time to review the return I note some consistent false-positives and realize 'police' may not be the only word used in relevant titles...

As an editor, I notice that almost every time "police department" is used as a phrase the content tends to deal with municipal administration and is rather boring. I tested a stem of 'police' using 'polic*' but that was a fail as 'policy' is almost wholly irrelevant.  I did notice that "sheriff" should be included and as I get familiar with sources I note that certain broadcasters refer to their police by the department initials such as "APD" in Albuquerque.

The following requests accommodates the inclusion of both "APD", the stemmed version of "sheriff", and the exclusion of "department":

=((provider_type_id:2 OR provider_type_id:8) AND title:(police OR sheriff* OR APD)) -(department)

As I am happy with my broader net, but I would now like to work on requesting video for channels for my topic pages. The use-case is that I write in the following channels and I would like to augment these pages with relevant video:

Standoff / Hostage
Dash-cam * Raw

Here are some attempts to request these topics using the API (additions in bold) and the return in the link:

=((provider_type_id:2 OR provider_type_id:8) AND title:((police OR sheriff* OR APD)) AND (swat)) -(department)

return (full request in URL):

=((provider_type_id:2 OR provider_type_id:8) AND title:((police OR sheriff* OR APD)) AND (standoff OR "stand off" OR hostage*)) -(department)

return (full request in URL):

=((provider_type_id:2 OR provider_type_id:8) AND title:((police OR sheriff* OR APD)) AND (dash OR raw)) -(department)

return (full request in URL):


Part 2: Parsing RSS for use in widgets and popular blogging platforms.

Part 3: Customizing the player environment and controlling pre-roll.