Google News announced recently that you can now search by city/state and zip code to get news. I don’t know why they’re talking about this while not saying much about the location: syntax, but whatever. Let’s get local.
When I think of hyperlocal news search (zip-code level) I think Topix. You can do zip code news searches by using the Google News advanced search form at http://news.google.com/advanced_news_search . (Don’t try to do the searches from the main search form; you’ll get really wonky results.)
I did a search for 82001, which is Cheyenne Wyoming. I got 492 results, from what looked like mostly Cheyenne searches. But if I did the same search and restricted the results to Wyoming media (again using the advanced search form) I got far fewer results.
(By the way, if you want you can search for news about one zip code — say, 82001 — in media from another state — say, New York. When I tried this I got some irrelevant information but I also got legitimate news from other sources.)
Searching by city and state worked equally well; searching for Burlington Vermont found over 1900 results, again mostly from that state’s media.
Doing some location searching is all very well, but nothing I saw here is going to tear me away from Topix. On the other hand, I see plenty of opportunities to add Google’s various special searches to the location search. For example, I might decide I only want television station stories from my search — I could add source:tv to my geography-based search. I might want to add keywords that are restricted to headlines — like searching for 90210 and then adding intitle:strike to the search.
(It appears that you have to edit the searches from the advanced search pages. When I tried to change the keywords on the search result page, Google News lost its location searching.)
When it comes to news by location, I’m going to stick with Topix. But I do want to do some additional playing with Google News’ area-based news in conjunction with other special syntax.