Blogs > 37th Frame

Photography, notes, commentary and much more from former Reporter Online Editor Chris Stanley.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Oops (the perils of automation)

Keyword generation of advertising is a very, very lucrative business - after all, advertisers don't just want their ads seen by as many eyeballs as possible, they want those eyeballs attached to humans that might actually purchase their products. Many ads, including some at and other local news outlets, are placed automatically by services provided by many outside companies.

Of course, automatic placement of ads has some drawbacks, which is always of concern to editors. This example, which I stumbledupon this morning, is a perfect example:

This ad fails on multiple fronts, though I wonder if some of that some may have been intentional.

First, to create an ad which includes images of guns pointing left and right will lead to situations like this all the time on news pages. The layout of this ad should have been rejected immediately for this reason alone - the guns could have easily been depicted facing at an angle that would have prevented such juxtapositions.

Second, ad placement software is designed to search for keywords such as murder, rape, crime, homicide and so forth...and prevent ads like this one from appearing on pages containing sensitive material. If this ad appeared on the NRA web site, or a site geared toward gun collectors, normally that would be no problem. But a general-interst news site needs different guidelines. Local news sites might need even tighter guidelines for various stories.

Third, a clear method of accountibility needs to be present. At our local news sites, readers can always call the local editor or publisher to report situations like this one. But at a national or aggregated news site, the only feedback method is often a 'contact us' box which often warns readers that replies are rare.


Sunday, June 5, 2011

Take a ride on the Reading line

Or actually a ride on the West Chester RR. Old commuter cars from both pulled into the Lansdale SEPTA station during Lansdale Day Saturday, and the WCRR offered an excursion through Philadelphia to West Chester and back to Lansdale. I didn't take the ride, but got some photos (along with a few hundred other folks) of these beautifully-restored cars and engines at the station. (Click on the photos to enlarge them)