Crawling for Local News

Last week, I wrote about, which spiders more than 3,000 other local news sites, then lets users enter their local ZIP codes and see a page showing all local news from all local media. The San Jose Mercury News quoted me:

    Vin Crosbie, a Connecticut media consultant, said his tests of Topix often produced more interesting lists of stories than local newspaper Web sites, in part because it gathers news from so many sources.

    “I think there would be an interest in this, ”Crosbie said, “and I think if you can provide somebody with a quick one-screen view of what’s happening, there’s a market for this. They don’t have a local flavor, but if there’s enough local news, they don’t need that.”

Just to verify what I meant, here is a comparison of the local news page of my town’s newspaper against Topix’s for the same locale. Topix provides the same stories plus more.

Another site that may be going in the same direction is Google’s local search beta test, which lets its users search topics according to U.S. street address, city, state, or ZIP code. It’s primarily a directory site and doesn’t yet carry local news, and Google’s executives aren’t saying if they plan that. But it wouldn’t be hard for Google to do that; its main news site already spiders more than 4,500 news sources, much like Topix.