RB Search Gizmos

Trying to Make Local News Search Easier With Marion’s Monocle

It makes sense that the longer an active Web resource exists, the better it would get and the more features it would have. It stands to reason, right?

But that’s not always the case, and a good example is Google News. Ages ago it was possible for you to do a location: query with that part of Google search. You could specify a country or a state in the US and you could get news from sources in that state or country. Which was, as you might imagine, super-useful!

You can’t do that now. That syntax doesn’t work anymore.

Doesn’t it bother you that we’re spending time arguing about exactly how amazing ChatGPT is while at the same time you can’t search Google for news about Brett Farve from sources originating in Mississippi? Doesn’t it piss you off that while ad cookies are tracking every online move you make, you can’t easily make a Google News query as specific in location as North Carolina?

Maybe it is just me; I am pretty weird. But it does piss me off. It made me want to see if I could do it better with my janky balsawood client-side JavaScript.

So I started playing around and ended up with Marion’s Monocle.

Screenshot from 2022-12-18 13-57-55

Marion’s Monocle take’s information from a FCC TV Station license search by state (thank you for making your search results available in plain text, FCC! I love you!) and pairs the resulting TV stations with their official Web sites via Wikidata. You can then pick up to ten of them (Google has a query limit and some states have dozens of TV stations) which are then bundled into a Google search and opened in a new tab.

Let’s use an example from the screenshot. Say I want to do a news search for Daniel McKee but I want to limit my search to TV stations in Rhode Island, where he’s governor. I start here:

Screenshot from 2022-12-18 14-09-01

I use the pulldown menu to choose Rhode Island, enter Daniel McKee, and click the button. You’ll have to wait several seconds because it’s got to get the license data from the FCC and match it up with Wikidata. Do your hair toss, check your nails. Baby, how you feelin’? Good as hell? Okay excellent, you should have the results in the form of a checklist.

Screenshot from 2022-12-18 14-14-33

There will be duplicates, feel free to ignore them. Tick the checkboxes of the ones you find interesting and click the Search TV News Stations on Google button. It will take your original query, add site: searches for the TV stations you chose, and open the results in a new tab.

Screenshot from 2022-12-18 14-20-24

But wait, there’s more! If you click on the News tab from here it will give you somewhat different results.

Screenshot from 2022-12-18 14-23-11

Mmmm, local news search. Delicious!

I find this works pretty well by itself to give results a strong local bent, but sometimes you’ll find a topic that’s being so exhaustively covered by nation/world media that syndicated stories are overwhelming your search results. If that happens, try adding reporter to your query.

Screenshot from 2022-12-18 14-30-23

You can also try exclusive, though I find it doesn’t work quite as well.

Screenshot from 2022-12-18 14-36-05

I haven’t found much bugginess apart from the duplicates. Just please be patient because sometimes the FCC search is a little pokey.

The boundaries for my imaginings are pretty strict – client-side JavaScript, free resources, and APIs that are as open as possible – but something something something mother of invention, right? I consider unfocused Web search a huge, ongoing problem  – a constant source of Gizmo-inspiring puzzles. Stay tuned.

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