Google News announced a new feature that enables users to drill down on local news. But your results vary--so much so that it's unlikely you'll drop your local newspaper.
In Google's News blog Andre Rohe and Rohit Ananthakrishna, two software engineers write:
Today we're releasing a new feature to find your local news by simply typing in a city name or zip code. While we’re not the first news site to aggregate local news, we’re doing it a bit differently -- we're able to create a local section for any city, state or country in the world and include thousands of sources. We’re not simply looking at the byline or the source, but instead we analyze every word in every story to understand what location the news is about and where the source is located.
Sounds great. And then I searched on my zip code: Three stories. This morning's Bucks County Courier Times has a lot more. So I zoomed out to Philadelphia and got a Flyers block and an Arena Football story--Jon Bon Jovi owns the Philadelphia Soul. I guess there were no other news events happening in Philly today. Of course, the Philadelphia Inquirer has a story about a local pedophile investigation that was complicated by the fact the perp was hijacking his neighbors' WiFi connections.
In the end, I found that Google News isn't nearly as local as it needs to be. Perhaps it needs to take the Yahoo approach and partner with the local newspapers so it can have the content sources to populate Google News.