Why the Bangor Daily News “ad frame” is bad for you, and what to do about it

Links should be free- and users are worth more than a few cents each. Why “ad frames” are bad business for news.

My local newspaper, the Bangor Daily News, has made some admirable improvements to its otherwise lackluster website over the past few months. To their credit, they’ve slowly integrated topic and people-based cross-links throughout their site, created “topic-centric” destination sections on health, sports, and politics, and appear to be slowly migrating their site from a vertical platform CMS to the world-class WordPress CMS.

An example of the ad frame used on the Bangor Daily News website (click image for full view)


Want an easy way to remove the BDN’s “ad frame” bar?

Firefox and Chrome users, install this Greasemonkey script I made. It will load the links to the sites as they intended, cutting out the BDN’s ad frame.

Install Zap BDN Frames

Firefox users need Greasemonkey first

All the goodwill engendered by those steps threatens to be undone with their most unethical and annoying update: A persistent top frame that sticks you with a BDN-hosted ad — even when you’ve clicked off their site to visit other links. (Here’s an example of the “ad frame” in action– what you’d see after clicking a link from the BDN website). Worse, the BDN ad frame give users no way to remove the frame- a feature that even the universally-derided “Diggbar” offered before being shut down due to overwhelming criticism.

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Welcome to The Maine Edge

Welcome to a new alternative weekly publication in my local area: it’s called The Maine Edge, and it covers arts, technology, sports and more in Bangor, surrounding communities, and nationwide. I like the upbeat, positive tone and the coverage seems to be pretty competitive in terms of not just trodding the same ground as our major daily.

And in this week’s issue, they’ve got a nice article explaining podcasting written by Justin Russell. If you’re looking for Maine-centric podcasts– and come on, who isn’t– there are a couple out there besides Maine Impact, the one I co-host with Lance Dutson (we’re currently on hiatus, btw). Here is just a sample; for more, search the iTunes podcast directory for “Maine”:

  1. Maine Democrats podcast, from Maine Democrats.org
  2. Maine Things Considered, Maine Public Radio (link points to iTunes Music Store)
  3. Maine PodCache, Maine Geocaching Association (link points to iTunes Music Store)

Reading Bill Simmons

If you care even in the slightest for either sports and/or magazine writing, you should be reading ESPN’s Bill Simmons now more than ever.

After a couple shaky months (a career so prolific, yet so organic, creates natural ups and downs), Simmons has been on fire lately, with two excellent mailbag columns and two other uncharacteristically short pieces of late- one on former Red Sox great Fred Lynn, and the other a hilarious and on-point review of Seabiscut.

For those who aren’t familiar (though he’s in ESPN The Magazine, on ESPN The Web site, and a writer for Jimmy Kimmel Live), Simmons is the former “”Boston Sports Guy”” who self-published a large volume of columns and daily links for the die-hard Boston sports fans first on his own site, and later at Boston’s CitySearch Web site.

Simmons’ columns are some of the best- and most original- examples of American sportswriting anywhere, despite his now-classic rough-edge, college-guy writing style. An unchallenged expert on sports history, sports movies, television, and most of the rest of pop culture, he combines each of these elements into long-form first-person narratives. His best quality, despite all of his other talents, has always been the palpabable passion for all things sports that he delivers at times cleverly, wisely, and reverently.

There are people who still love sports for the drama, for the game, and for its better characters- and not all of them are middle age balding men in sports coats and toupees. There is at least one great fan who came of age with us, saw the things we saw, and remembers the things we do.

I am very grateful he has chosen to write most of them down.