RB Search Gizmos

Find TV Stations By City/State and Google Search Them: Marion’s Monocle v2

I have mentioned before the idea of “persistent metadata,” metadata about physical objects that is always available and always applicable. The two types of persistent metadata I use the most in building my Search Gizmos are time and location.

The ability to narrow down what you’re searching by a date or place with contextual meaning is a powerful tool. It gives you a non-keyword-based way to focus your results (so important when searching unstructured data!) and adds a contextual boundary to hopefully make your results richer and more relevant. But we can make it still better by adding an additional search filter: an authoritative source. Let me give you an example.

I learned today that the Federal Communications Commission has an API for its Public Inspection File. This database contains information about the television and radio station licenses issued by the FCC. You can search that database by keyword, whether that’s a station name or location. The results you get back from the searches include information about the station’s owners, call sign, location, and website.

In other words, the FCC has a database of Web sites for licensed television stations that you can search by location. Looking at it, I thought “Why don’t I apply that data to a Google search?”

So I did. I made a Gizmo, Marion’s Monocle 2, that lets you specify a state, get a list of FCC-licensed television stations in that state (grouped by city), choose up to 10 of them, and create a query to explore those stations’ Web space on Google via the site: syntax. You can then add keywords to the initial query to run a more specific search or just browse to see what Google is indexing from those particular sources. In addition, you can search Google News to see if any articles by that station have been indexed by Google in the last 24 hours.

For a long time I have wanted a way to search news sources relevant to a location that I KNEW were relevant to a location, not whatever some black hat SEO person had managed to convince Google was relevant. Restricting my search to only those resources licensed by the FCC seems like a pretty tight way to do that.

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