There Goes the Neighboorhood …

Published on February 7, 2008
by John Paczkowski

On the great list of words no tech executive ever wants to hear, “Google has entered your market” ranks right up there with “Microsoft’s made a hostile bid for the company” and “Hello, I’m Chris Hansen with ‘Dateline NBC: To Catch a Predator’.” So local news aggregators like Topix and EveryBlock can be forgiven for blanching a bit when Google announced the addition of geo-local search to Google News this morning.

“Today we’re releasing a new feature to find your local news by simply typing in a city name or zip code,” Google software engineers Andre Rohe and Rohit Ananthakrishna wrote in a post to the official company blog. “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.”

Location-based news targeting. Pretty slick. Or it will be, once they get the 90210 bug worked out. Still, as Topix co-founder Rich Skrenta notes, Google’s a little late to this particular game. “This was pretty neat stuff when Topix launched in January 2004,” Skrenta quips. “Now if Google just added 50,000 vetted local blogs to the mix, and a community with 100K posts/day, they’ll have something.”

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