Geo-coding the News


By: Nu Yang

Geo-coding the News

As more readers consume news on their mobile devices, News Bayou wants to deliver a personalized, hyperlocal news feed right to your smartphone, all based on your current location.

Developed by Our Hometown, Inc., News Bayou aggregates news articles using the company’s Points Mentioned product. Launched early last year, Points Mentioned uses a simple algorithm to target locations mentioned in a paper’s online article. Once locations are tagged, a small map is embedded in the story, where locations are pinpointed and specific areas are highlighted for more information.  

According to director of business development Matthew Larson, there are currently 140 weeklies and 10 daily newspapers using Points Mentioned. As a result, News Bayou’s database has between 1.2 and 1.5 million stories with nearly 4 million points geo-coded.

With papers like the San Francisco Examiner and the Los Angeles Wave using Points Mentioned, Larson said, “News Bayou takes Points Mentioned a step further and takes your location and gives you all the stories in your area.”

He explained, “The whole process begins on the newspaper’s site. Once the map is put on the page through a Javascript code, the articles come back to the database, and it has the potential to show up on News Bayou.”

Vice president of engineering and production Jeremy Beha said the news feed is updated every two minutes.

Larson said the news feed is very “intuitive” as the feed changes as the user moves.

Users also have the option to input any location to do a search. In addition, users can adjust the feed to receive the most recent news or the closest news to their location.

“News Bayou connects audiences to articles in a whole new way,” Larson said. “You can find stories based on your location or you can find stories from across the country.”

Larson said he wants to keep the costs at zero for publishers. Points Mentioned and News Bayou has the opportunity to earn revenue for them. Last month, News Bayou launched a digital subscription plan, which Larson described as the “iTunes for the news.”

Instead of subscribing to a dozen of newspapers around the country, Larson said readers can subscribe to a single news feed with News Bayou. It’s currently available as a web app in Android and iOS devices.

“We’re experimenting and positioning ourselves with our database as mobile advertising matures and becomes more common,” Larson said.

In the future, he sees publishers using story sponsorship on Points Mentioned, local businesses pinning their locations on the embedded maps and even location-based advertising.

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