Friday, February 08, 2008

Google News Goes Local

As of Wednesday, Google's added a new feature to its news page: local news. To set it up, go to news.google.com, scroll down until you find the edit box as shown above, enter the City, State or Zip Code, and it'll create a section on your news page devoted to that locality, as well as putting an entry in the sidebar (click the above image to see the sidebar).

According to Google, they find local news not just by looking at the location of the source, but by scanning every word in the story to determine its relevance to your chosen locality. Sounds a bit like the way the put up contextual ads, eh?

In their blog post announcing the feature, Google says:
Today we're releasing a new feature to find your local news by simply typing in a city name or zip code. While we’re not the first news site to aggregate local news, we’re doing it a bit differently -- we're able to create a local section for any city, state or country in the world and include thousands of sources. We’re not simply looking at the byline or the source, but instead we analyze every word in every story to understand what location the news is about and where the source is located.
When I think of local news, though, I think of Topix, which not only posts news on its own site, but also supplies local news to sites like CNN (scroll toward the bottom for Topix content). Is Topix scared? Not hardly.

Instead Topix co-founder Rich Skrenta says Google is copying Topix - the 2004 version that is.
This was pretty neat stuff when Topix launched in January, 2004. Now if Google just added 50,000 vetted local blogs to the mix, and a community with 100k posts/day, they'll have something.
And he has a point. We'll see how it works. Google news has never been my favorite source for news anyway, as somehow, though their search engine has grabbed me, scanning for news on their news site just hasn't.


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