Google Local News

February 8, 2008 § 1 Comment

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All news is local. I mean: all news is Google news. Or is it: all Google is local. Wait, wait: everything local is Google’s. Everything is Google’s, not your’s… even your local news. There, that’s it!

Google announced yesterday that their news is going local. Just go to Google News, scroll down a bit and look for the “Local News” category where you can enter your city or zip code. How do they do it? Well, it’s simple… I mean hard:

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.

Wow, “analyze every word in every story”!? Overall, this is really useful and I love it… but identifying locally relevant content (news or web pages or photos or anything) is tricky stuff and hard to automate (especially in these nascent geoweb times). Looking at the local Google news for my area I see false drops (that’s what we librarians call irrelevant hits) and I don’t see some news I’d expect to see (things I, as a local, know are locally important right now). That’s why other local news resources (Topix, Outside.in) leverage the human element — the locals themselves.

Quite a while ago, the inestimable Tara Calishain at Research Buzz turned me on (not literally) to using location syntax in the advanced search area in Google News (it’s still there, take a look — it’s currently the only way to search Google’s local news). For my local area, the news results using the advanced search syntax seem to be the same as the news results from this new local news category.

So I’m not sure this announcement marks any significant improvement in Google’s ability to search and find local news. But it’s certainly a smart move by Google to raise awareness of another cool search feature. One thing fer sher: Google is getting localer and localer.

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