For a while, Google has been playing around with the idea of hyperlocal news. Back in 2013, it tested Google Now cards that could show information as close as your neighborhood, for example. Google is now dilating its focus on local news with a new app called Bulletin. Bulletin encourages local journalists and ordinary people to capture a video, take a snapshot and create a story about events wherever they happen, giving each user the same platform. The free app is being released as part of a limited pilot program and is currently only available in the Oakland and Nashville metropolitan areas. If all goes well, we could see a more extensive release at some point in the future.
Users can tell their stories by sharing text, photos or videos, as they would with a blog but with a prepared audience. There might be a form of moderation before your content goes live, but news can be shared with other members of the community instantly. Presumably, the system should require nothing more than a Google account, so it could be an effortless way to have your voice heard.
Google confirmed the project on Slate on Friday. ” This is very much in the testing phase and aimed at hyperlocal stories and events for people to share, and for local media to take advantage of,” a Google spokesman told Slate. “People everywhere want to know what is going on in their own backyard at a very local level, ranging from local bookstore readings to high school sporting events to information about local street closures. “
It is not difficult to see a tool like Bulletin as a blessing for local journalists and news media looking for stories closer to home. While the false news may be a concern for Google in general, this project seems focused on events and happenings instead of hard report stories. Anyway, that’s fine; it can be logical that this kind of power is in the hands of people for the regional communities who are trying to share what is happening in their own environment.