Just as Ask is introducing “BigNews,” Google is offering local news. The Google News Blog says that the new capabilities allow users to “create a local section for any city, state or country in the world.” As the Google News Blog admits, Google isn’t the first to do this. Topix.com was (Topix cofounder Rich Skrenta calls Google’s move four years behind the times here). And Topix powers local news feeds for sites like CNN (scroll for local).
Yahoo News offers local content through its various newspaper and TV affiliate relationships, while Ask’s new BigNews allows users to search for news tied to a particular location. And there are a range of “hyper-local” news sites such as EveryBlock and YourStreet.
Google says that it’s analyzing stories to determine whether news is tied to a specific area, rather than looking at sources. Thus, news about “San Francisco” could equally be from the New York Post or BBC or any other English language source beyond particular newspapers or other local media outlets. For now the service is only available for English language sources.
You can enter a city name, zip/postal code, and get a personalized news module for the desired location:
Google News also allows you to manipulate the presentation of stories by all the standard filters, time, text, images:
Though imperfect, it’s a nice feature addition. For discussion across the web, see related stories on Techmeme.
Postscript From Danny: To get started, look for the “Edit this personalized page” link you should see on the right. Click, choose add a local section, then enter a US ZIP Code or country name for outside the US [non-US postal codes don’t work, at least a UK one I tried doesn’t). Change your mind after making a local section? Use the “edit” link on the reverse bar over the local results that were added to Google News for you, and you can then change the location.