Topix Reinvents Itself to Become a Social News Site
An announcement from online news site Topix today that it’s reinventing itself to become something of a user-driven social news site. They’ve opened what they call “virtual news bureaus” in cities across the U.S., and are inviting users to submit local news stories. With 10-million monthly unique visitors, Topix is one of the top 25 news sites on the web (according to Hitwise), so this is a major announcement. Previously the only way to get an article or news release on the site was to have your news feed automatically picked up by Topix (I tried .. no one answered my email requests) or pay a news distribution service like PRWeb that feeds into the site.
According to the news release (PDF format) published today by Topix…
Topix, the largest news community on the Web, today unveiled a new site that gives its established community of millions the power to find, report and edit local news. Topix’s pioneering platform addresses the pent-up demand for local news in towns and cities across the country where traditional news media alone can’t cover enough of the hyper-local events and issues that matter most to neighbors.
The company is also moving its site from Topix.net to Topix.com. The purchase of the .com domain reportedly cost $1 million.
Under the redesign, the national news on the front page is gone. Instead, you’re invited to enter your zip code so you can see news from your area. Users are now able to submit news under their own zip code via an online form or even via cell phone. Many zip codes will have their own human editor, who will gather news for the page they manage. Zip codes without an editor will be refreshed with local news via RSS feeds from online news sources. Each local news page will have the look and feel of a blog, with newest items up top. Comments on the news can be made on the site’s message boards.
ZDNet’s Donna Bogatin has interesting insight on the reasons for the change, saying Topix CEO Rich Skrenta was concerned that his site was becoming simply an extension of Google. In other words, people would find news on his site via search engine, and when they got to Topix it didn’t look much different than a search engine. He wanted to change that by making the site more unique.
In the end, what this means for media relations and SEO PR professionals is that there’s one more quality place to easily post news releases, and it actually has visitors. I’ve always been a fan of the treatment that Topix has given to my PRWeb and PR Newswire releases, and I’m thrilled that it will be easier to access. I’m concerned, however, that it will end up becoming a repository for crappy news releases. It will be interesting to see how much editing these human editors actually do.