Monday, April 30, 2007

What's missing from local news?

Ina, a fellow student in my new media entrepreneurship class, found this site -- called Topix: Your town. Your news. Your take. That handy "About Us" section on the site explains that Topix "links news from 50,000 sources to 360,000 lively user-generated forums. Topix also works with the nation's major media companies to grow and engage their online audiences through forums, classifieds, publishing platforms and RSS feeds." A few of the logos for partnering companies appear below; the site shows 20, and that's not the whole list.

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: