By: Nu Yang
Want to know where breaking news is taking place in your neighborhood? Our Hometown, Inc., based in Clifton Springs, N.Y., has introduced Points Mentioned, a new product that will help newspapers target locations in their online stories. By using a simple algorithm, Points Mentioned zooms in on locations mentioned in an article — whether it’s the next city council meeting or a person’s place of birth in an obituary.
Vice president of engineering and production Jeremy Beha said he and his team created the algorithm to look for certain key phrases, such as addresses and cities, within a story. Once locations are tagged, a small map is embedded in the story, where locations are pinpointed and specific areas are highlighted for more information.
“It’s simple to use and simple to manage,” he said. “When reporters log in, they can add or delete a location right on the map and provide a real-time update.”
Beha said this service can be helpful during breaking news. “More and more people are using mobile apps, and mobile means moving from location to location.”
Points Mentioned is currently in beta with a few newspapers. The Rockaway Beach Wave in New York’s borough of Queens launched the service not long after Hurricane Sandy hit the East Coast. According to general manager Sanford Bernstein, the paper lowered its paywall for a few months after the storm. Bernstein said he saw Points Mentioned as more valuable to readers outside the local community, calling it a “nice feature” for readers unfamiliar with the area when they searched for storm-related stories.
Our Hometown expects to roll out Points Mentioned to more than 100 of its newspaper clients. Director of business development Matthew Larson said pricing tiers will be based on the number of per-map views.
As geo-information gains popularity, Beha said Points Mentioned will help reporters tell their stories better, especially in smaller newsrooms. “Small papers still want to tell a story, and with 20 to 50 stories shown on a map, imagine the impact.”
Both Beha and Larson said data mining is a great resource. “One day, readers may be able to use a map to browse the news,” Larson said. “It can be a fantastic resource tool for journalists and readers.”
For more information, visit pointsmentioned.com.