Sunday, January 14, 2007

 

Aggregating news at a very local level

Growing up in small suburb of San Francisco, my family subscribed to a really bad daily newspaper. Yes, we knew it was bad. The writing was bad, the national and world coverage was bad, the printing was bad, even the ads were bad.

But we subscribed anyway, and largely for the local news. School board news, Little League scores, and other issues that impacted us at a very local level. That bad local newspaper was the only place to get local news. They had a virtual monopoly.

The Internet, of course, has changed where local news can come from. Not only do local news sources (governments, schools and the like) now have a direct line to readers, but millions of citizen journalists nationwide are also "on the job", reporting what's relevant locally. That said, those citizen journalists and other local news sources remain frustratingly decentralized.

Enter AmericanTowns.com. They're attempting to aggregate ultra-local content at a national scale. I checked out the site for Kirkland, WA (where I both work and live) and the content thus far is sparse - mostly content from government agencies and a handful of early-adopter businesses.

But the platform makes sense, and should be popular once it catches on.

Information online is still exceedingly hard to find. Finding and aggregating relevant information for each individual interest is still a huge opportunity for Web entrepreneurs.

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