A quick glance at the news release archive indicates the company got a start in 2002 by aggregating news and blog sources. But, as their April 2 press release indicates,
Even with 50,000 news sources, there just wasn't enough local news - and what news there was, couldn't be tuned finely enough with algorithms alone.
So, in April 2007, we decided to open up our site, and give anyone the power to discuss, edit and share the news that matters to them.
How do they do that?
Anyone can now submit local news for any U.S. zip code to Topix through an easy web form on the web site or from their cell phone. Participants can also become citizen editors, improving the news content on the pages they edit.
Finally, here is their embedded video, asking a variety of people what's missing from their local news: