Google News just added a new “local news” section to the Google News homepage. You’ll find it by going to http://news.google.com and looking towards the mid-right side of the page. All you have to do is enter your zip code and Google will pull in news from various sources for your area. On their blog announcement they say that they are aware that they’re not the first news site to do something like this, but they’re doing it a bit differently by including thousands of sources. They say, “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 when the source is located.”
Sure, it’s nice that they search thousands of sources, but I still think Yahoo does local news better. Back in March of 2006 (so almost two years ago) they launched their local news service. You enter in your zip code and then they provide you with local news. What’s nice about Yahoo’s service that Google doesn’t allow is customizability. Google’s customization option includes only the option to select how many stories you would like displayed. Yahoo allows you to customize your local news by choosing which sources you want active, which ones you don’t, and in what order.
At this point, Google says that this is still just an experiment for them which is why they’re only offering the service in English. While it is definitely nice to have the local news, I think they could take some time to integrate more customization options like Yahoo has, and of course, add more languages in the near future so that a global audience can benefit from it.