The Google New mobile app received an update today, that was announced at the Google I/O Conference. If you are a news hound then Google News is probably something you visit frequently. And now, it just got better on your phone or tablet. According to Google:
“Location-based news first became available in Google News in 2008, and today there’s a local section for just about any city, state or country in the world with coverage from thousands of sources. We do local news a bit differently, analyzing every word in every story to understand what location the news is about and where the source is located.”
If your phone tracks your location, and most do, then you can easily build a local new feed on your phone. To get started you will have to visit Google News from your Android or iOS device. A pop-up will ask you to share your location. Just say “yes” and the local news will auto-populate. You will then receive a “news near you” link at the bottom of you home page. You can turn off the feature at any time hiding the section in your personalization settings or by adjusting your mobile browser settings.
This update adds a nifty “local” aspect to Google News that has been lacking since launch. It’s a great way to keep up-to-date with what is going on around you. Google News has continued to improve since launch, despite threats from high-powered news orginaztions such as Ruppert Murdoch’s empire. Now they are muscling in on the territory of local papers and networks to go one step beyond.
This is a follow-up post to an earlier entry I wrote back in on March 21, 2010, titled Trouble with Yelp. It was about Yelp being sued for manipulating reviews and pressuring businesses into buying advertisements with them.
Last week, Yelp announced some changes in its policies. The first change they made was to start showing all reviews, even those they believe are spam or have inappropriate language. The regular reviews are shown at the top. Those reviews that would not have made it through the previous review process are shown in a separate area. There is a link at the bottom of the page you have to click on to get to them. I suspect that unless someone has been following this story, they will never see this link or if they do know what its for. Its on the right path, but I doubt Yelps critics will think it is enough. Yelp also got rid of most favorite review option. Under the old policies, businesses who paid for advertisements had the option to pick their favorite review and have it highlighted. This has also led to complaints from the business community that they are being pressured to advertise through Yelp. Those that didn’t were only not having favorable reviews highlighted, but according to the critics they were actually being removed.
Yelp insisted they did nothing wrong and that much of the problem was a misunderstanding on how they dealt with reviews. That no one was being favored by the process, they were simply weeding out spam and false reviews. This maybe true, however critics will point out that Yelp could have made these changes at anytime, but didn’t until they were faced with a law suit. As a user do think the changes will make a difference on how you see Yelp reviews. If you’re a business do feel better about Yelp now or has it made no difference.
WSAZ is the local TV station that services the Huntington and Charleston, WV area. I must admit that I don’t watch a lot of local news on TV. I usually only catch it when I can’t find the remote. However this doesn’t mean I am not interested in local news, I just don’t have the time or desire to sit in front of the TV at the same time every night. Unfortunately for local news I don’t think I am unique. They could have just thrown up there hands and given up on viewers like me. They didn’t do that though, they looked around and realized that people like me spend a lot of time on our smart phone. They had a company create an Iphone application for them.
It is a really good application and I use it daily. You can look at local news, sports, weather and business. They provide videos which play through the Youtube application. You can share a story by email, Facebook or Twitter If you observe a local news story, you can upload video or pictures to WSAZ through the application. If you click on weather you can look at the forecast, watch the radar or check for local alerts. Under sports they have news and scores from Marshall and WVU. They also provide scores and schedules for high schools in the area.
Basically it has got everything you need to follow local news. The only complaint I have is I wish it would update more often. If you live in the Charleston-Huntington area I would recommend downloading the application. If you live some other area then go to the Iphone app store and put in your local news station call sign. If an application is available download it, you may learn things you didn’t know about your area.
- News is moving online. People want instant access to news without waiting until the next morning or afternoon.
- The recession has caused a terrifying drop in printed advertising causing a quick but low profit move online.
- Local news companies must move to quick unabbreviated news online that incorporates local business advertising.
- Local businesses must move online with a web presence that brings both foot traffic to the brick and mortar store as well as an online business.
The Fargo Forum moved to a CMS and used their site extremely well during the recent flood. The site is not necessarily as polished and easy to navigate as Foxnews.com, but a good start in the online news business. However, the prime advertising real estate on the site is for Forum operated sites. Sites that local businesses can join and participate/advertise in. Really they are ads for the Forum classifieds (i.e. Homes, Apartments, Cars, etc.) There are really very few ads for individual businesses. And once you visit the the business you may or may not be greeted by a discount or sales offer. This must change if local news and businesses are going to make the transition. The Forum is definitely in the game and making progress but it has room to grow.
The online move of news could force more and more local businesses to develop a true online presence. It may not mean an online store, but it will mean an online version of what they would have had printed in the paper. Additionally, they can have the equivalent of an entire sales flier for the price of an online click-through ad. Could this mean a resurgence for web developers as local businesses must build dynamic CMS sites? I believe that the local news agencies and businesses that catch on to this partnership and market will rediscover the advertising gold mine. The early bird will get the worm.