Building A News Blog with NewsBuilt

A news blog can be an engaging resource for site visitors. NewsBuilt lets you create an automatic topic-based news blog. Add search criteria and schedule tasks, and NewsBuilt finds related news and posts directly to your site.

Why use NewsBuilt?

Manually adding news to your blog is time-consuming and tedious, and RSS Feeds don’t tell the full story. If you bookmark search topics to regularly find and post article excerpts to a blog, NewsBuilt can save you time. If you want to curate topical news for your site, or you want to auto-post daily videos on several topics, NewsBuilt can do that too.

NewsBuilt was designed to fill the needs of a busy grassroots campaign. A non-profit organization fighting for better elections, Rank the Vote, needed a news blog, and NewsBuilt was born! It has been supplying content to their news blog since mid-2020 on both WordPress and NationBuilder platforms.

Turning It On

Create a NewsBuilt account. You can add services, run searches, extract content and build social media shares with a free account, but a subscription is required to post to a blog or schedule tasks.

Checking Your Dashboard

The dashboard shows a summary of your data, connections and services. The left side shows your news data, BuiltCasts and service calls (rollover for total & last call). The right side shows your setup, access keys, accounts and subscription plan. Recent news is summarized in the center.

Starting Your Engines

Choose a search engine to find content. To use one of the built-in engines, go to Search > + Add new criteria, choose Engine > The Guardian, enter search term and save.

Click FIND NEWS to search using all active criteria. You’ll see a progress bar, then a summary. Click News to see the results.

Adding Horsepower

The built-in engines are limited, so let’s add more. Most features use external APIs; Application Programming Interfaces are how programs communicate over the web. Choose from dozens of services via API to find news articles, podcasts or videos, extract full news content, analyze mood or shorten URL. Since many use RapidAPI, you can quickly unlock a number of features with one key.

After creating a RapidAPI account, subscribe to an API. BingNews is shown here, but choose any of the compatible NewsBuilt API services. Most offer free options that can serve a typical news blog. Subscribe to an API from its pricing page.

An extractor can get full article content, so also add Ujeebu. For news videos, add Bing Video. To guess the mood of each article, also get Japerk. See all your plans at Billing > Subscriptions & Usage. To access your RapidAPI services through NewsBuilt, click Add New App.

Name your app (anything you want), then click its Security button.

Copy your app’s Application Key. To expose the key, click the eye icon.

Go to NewsBuilt > Keys and paste the key. Lastly, mark any RapidAPI services you’ve added.

Save changes to Keys. You can now access your RapidAPI services through NewsBuilt. To add other services, subscribe to it from your RapidAPI account, then mark its box in NewsBuilt > Keys. For non-RapidAPI services, sign up for an API key and add to Keys. See the full list of NewsBuilt API services.

Extracting News Content

To extract full article content, add an Extractor (with optional backup) to your criteria.

Here, BingNews finds up to 13 related articles, and Ujeebu extracts the full content and Japerk analyzes the sentiment for each. Notice for each BingNews call, you also make 13 Ujeebu & Japerk calls.

Show Media Type: Click the triangle in the top left corner to show all results or just articles, podcasts or videos.

Filter Your Search: Setup > Max. Age age-limits all news results.
Setup > Remove Tags is a list of HTML tags to strip from content. The default “article, div, section, span” safely cleans up most HTML. Removing ‘p’ tags is not recommended however!

Keyword Fit: While finding news, items are scored by user-supplied weighted keywords. Add to Setup > Fit Keywords a list of words, with optional weights as an asterisk (*) and an integer. Modifying existing Fit Keywords will adjust all news pieces’ Fit scores.

Keyword Fit and Sentiment Analysis rely on full text, so using an Extractor improves the quality of both Fit and Mood scores.

Connecting Your Blog

What you need: A WordPress or NationBuilder blog and a NewsBuilt subscription.

Go to Setup and choose your blog Platform, either WordPress or NationBuilder.

The following steps are for WordPress. NationBuilder users can skip ahead.

Enter your WordPress URL. If your WordPress User matches your NewsBuilt login, leave it blank. (see also Post Settings below)

To get a WordPress Password go to WordPress > Admin > User Profile > Application Passwords. (WordPress 5.6 and above. For prior versions, add the plug-in Application Passwords )

Pick a name and click Add New. Copy the password (spaces and all) from the pop-up. For security reasons, you only see the password once. If you lose it, just revoke it and make another.

Paste into NewsBuilt > Setup > WordPress Password and save. Skip ahead to Testing Your Platform.

NationBuilder users: Go to NewsBuilt > Setup and verify your NationBuilder info. Unless you have multiple blogs, leave ID=1. If your NationBuilder Slug matches your NewsBuilt login, leave that blank.

Go to NewsBuilt > Accounts. Click NationBuilder and log in to your NationBuilder account to grant access. NewsBuilt connects securely via Oauth2.

Testing Your Platform: To verify the connection to your blog platform, click Setup > TEST to publish a test post to your blog.

Posting News Content

Users can post items to a news blog either by item or by batch. To post an item, click its post preview icon > then click POST. To include an item for batch-post, click Post? to change its post status to Ready. Click POST NEWS to upload all post-ready items. In the following example, only the 1st post gets uploaded, the 2nd has been posted and the 3rd is ignored.

If you typically post all search results, set Search Criteria > Post All to mark all its results as post-ready. Default is OFF. (See Curating Your News Blog below.)

Old News: News items can be archived when you are done with them. Click an item’s Move button to archive it, or click the top Move button to archive all recent items. Click Old to view or retrieve archived items.

Reposting: If you delete a post using your blog’s admin page and want to repost, edit the item in NewsBuilt, uncheck Post-Ready and save to reset.

Post Settings

Deleting items: To delete associated posts from your blog when an item is deleted in NewsBuilt, mark Setup > Delete Blog Posts. Uncheck to leave associated posts on your blog when deleting related NewsBuilt items.

Drafts: To post items in a draft/unlisted status, check Setup > Post Drafts.

Finding Images: Set minimum dimensions in Setup > Min. Width/Height for the extractor to find larger images, if possible.

Attaching Images: Item images can be uploaded to your blog’s Media Library while posting. The URL of the attached image appears in the item’s Image file after being posted. Enable this feature in Setup > Attach images. In WordPress, the image is also tagged as the post’s featured image.

Blog Tags: Add tag(s) to blog posts in Setup > Blog Tags as a comma-separated list. WordPress users: set both Tags and Categories by ID. (To determine IDs, in WordPress click on Tags or Categories under Posts. Roll over a Tag or Category to see the ID at the end of the URL.)

Comments: Check Setup > Allow Comments to let users post comments on blog posts. (WordPress only)

Setup > Article/Podcast/Video Post Link sets the text link to the original URL at the bottom of posts.

Setup > Blog Post Template lets you customize blog posts to match your site design. Use standard HTML with six empty {} fields representing, in order, a news item’s:

  • Author/Source
  • Opening Text
  • Quote
  • Full Text Content
  • URL
  • Article/Podcast/Video Post Link (from Setup)

Leave Blog Post Template blank to use the following default template:

<strong>| {} |</strong><br><br>
{}<br><br><a href="{}">{}</a>

Plotting Charts

Data can be visualized to help gauge the impact of your campaign or issue. Click Charts to plot data. The following charts represent real data observed on the issue ranked choice voting, collected twice daily for a year by NewsBuilt. The Sentiment chart shows a slow positive trend, illustrating gradual understanding of the relatively new issue of ranked choice voting.

Using the pull-down menus, select the chart data, group and date range, then click Plot Chart.

Milestones: Include related events by adding Milestones by date, label, line color and width. Milestones within the date range appear in the chart.

Scheduling Tasks to Curate Your Blog

NewsBuilt tasks can be scheduled as needed. Schedule just a Find News task to search but allow items to be curated before posting. Also add a Post News task to auto-post search results. Go to Schedule > + Add.

Mark Keep Logs to record when a task runs. The example above finds news every morning—like pressing Search Criteria > FIND NEWS. Times are in UTC, shown in bottom bar for reference.

To see logs of completed tasks, click Logs.

Stop here to curate posts manually. For automatic posting, also add a Post News task.

The example above uploads all post-ready articles each morning. Criteria > Post Results to post everything. A Post News task is like clicking News > POST BATCH to BLOG. For freshness, Find News runs before a concurrent Post News task.

Sharing to Social Media

NewsBuilt provides custom text for sharing to social media. The default text uses the item Description, but defers to an item’s Share Text added by the user. Also change or remove Setup > Article/Podcast/Video Share Prefix. To choose shared link destinations—either blog post URLs (checked) or original URLs—mark Share Article/Podcast/Video Posts. Depending on platform, sharing original URLs may look better (via Twitter cards, Facebook og:tags, etc.). Hashtags are appended to the share, followed by Twitter handles.

Link Shorteners: To save space, links are shortened via TinyURL by default. To shorten using Bitly instead, connect Accounts > Bitly. The feature is enabled in Setup > Shorten URLs.

To share to social media, click an item’s share icon to open the share page.

Depending on length, you may see a longer text version as well. Click the copy icon by the text you prefer. (NationBuilder users: click to open the broadcaster.)

Twitter handles are added automatically. To add handles, go to Setup > Handles > + New Handle:

Handles with the most matching keywords are added to the share text, up to Setup > Max. Handles, or OFF to disable.

Transmitting and Relaying BuiltCasts

BuiltCasts let you post (transmit) content for partner blogs to repost (relay).

Relaying: Click BuiltCasts > Relay on the one you choose. When the user posts, news items publish to your blog (without appearing in your NewsBuilt data). Relayers are listed below if you’re transmitting to other blogs.

Transmitting: Go to Setup > Transmit BuiltCast to publish your posts to relayers’ blogs.

More NewsBuilt Services

The built-in NewsBuilt API services use a shared key available to any NewsBuilt user. While the chance of a shared service getting rate-limited is low, you can add your own key to replace any of the shared keys.

This post covers just a few of the many API services offered by NewsBuilt. Other APIs can even be added by request. Given its active development, the set of services and features in NewsBuilt is certain to grow.


About scotty

Scotty Vercoe is an award-winning composer, performer, producer and activist.

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