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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My new short story: an experiment in self-publishing

A Hard Word to Pronounce coverAs you may have noticed, I have a new short story out, and I want to tell you all about it. It’s called “A Hard Word to Pronounce”, and it’s about a young twenty-ish guy on the day of his best friend’s wedding.

Because it’s a short story- and not a novel, or collection- I’m releasing it in e-book format, which basically means that it’s a great quality PDF. When you get it, you can either read it on your computer (or iPod or whatnot), or choose to print it out and take it with you. It’s $2 to own, and you can read an excerpt and purchase it right here:
http://jasonclarke.org/hardword

Whoah…a short story, in PDF download format, for two bucks? That sounds a bit crazy, no? But really, if you think about it, it’s kind of cool- because besides the fact that it gives you the option of saving some trees (and hasn’t it been a while since you had a chance to do that?), it’s also neat because it dramatically lowers the costs of production- savings which are passed directly on to you, dear reader.

Let me tell you just a bit more about this process, because I think it’s a direction that publishing is moving in. In this case, instead of packaging the story into a larger book– and that has to be done, because most printed books have set minimum page counts– you’re getting just one short story, but for much less than you’d pay for a typical book. That’s because it’s being delivered instantly (another benefit), without the interruption of a vast set of fixed costs such as printers, shippers, and even publicists and marketers.

That’s it for now. Even if you don’t care about the future of publishing, or saving a tree or two, please head over to my website, check out the story, and perhaps purchase it for yourself or a loved one. You can find all the info, plus order it, right here:

http://jasonclarke.org/hardword

And please do send me your thoughts and/or comments. I look forward to hearing from you, and I promise to keep you updated.

My statement on OJ’s new book

Via MSNBC, I just learned that my former publisher, ReganBooks, is putting out a book by O.J. Simpson titled “If I Did It.” According to news reports, the book will describe how Simpson “would have” killed Nicole Brown and Ron Goldman, murders he was aquitted of in 1995.

Although I value free speech, I also value appropriate restraint, and in this case I think ReganBooks has gone beyond the pale in their effort to publish sensational material. More than that- I’m truly disgusted and thoroughly embarrassed to be associated with a publisher who is stooping to such a disgraceful act.

UPDATE:
Gratefully, ReganBooks parent NewsCorp has decided to junk both the book, as well as TV special created to accompany it.