Monday, February 11, 2008

Google News starts local search; Topix yawns

Google announced a new feature last week: a local news search on Google News. This feature, which is accessible from the service's main page, allows users to search for stories by zip code or city -- something has offered for several years.

"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," explains Google News Blog. "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."

It's worth checking out, but it seems the sources are somewhat limited to major newspapers and television station Web sites. (Read more) A few weeks back, we also offered some tips for narrowing searches on Google News.

Topix brushed off the development, first giving a little of its history: "We added government, weather and industry sources, and then we added 25,000 blogs to the mix to see what we'd get. And, pretty much, they still didn't provide the breadth of coverage around local news, especially around small towns." Concluding that "there wasn't enough coverage of most areas by the mainstream press or the blogsphere, and that the real opportunity was to become a place for people to publish commentary and stories," Topix started forums. "Two years and 25 million posts later, Topix has gone from being merely an aggregator of local news, to becoming the home of local voice on the Web."

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