Google

Google’s latest test involves hyperlocal news uploaded from smartphones.

Google may be putting a new twist on website management with a hyperlocal news app it’s testing in Nashville and Oakland.

Slate reports that the search and advertising company has developed an app and website called Bulletin which allows users to post video, photos and messages to the web without using an existing blog or website.

According to Slate’s Will Oremus:

website first spotted online Thursday describes Bulletin as “an app for contributing hyperlocal stories about your community, for your community, right from your phone.” It’s designed to make it “effortless” to tell “the stories that aren’t being told” via your smartphone. It’s not just for techie early adopters: “If you are comfortable taking photos or sending messages, you can create a Bulletin story!”, the site says.

The app is in a “limited pilot” in just two cities: Nashville and Oakland.

Google confirmed the project Friday morning. “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,” spokeswoman Maggie Shiels told me. “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.”

Oakland and Nashville are both cities with Google Fiber, and have blossoming tech scenes. But they’re also far from major media markets such as New York and Los Angeles. That may make them perfect places to test out Google’s new website management tool. Slate reports:

It sounds like a super-lightweight content management system, aimed at amateur journalists or anyone else who wants to live-blog a news event or report a news story in a way that has a chance to reach a broad audience. Examples from the presentation included “extraordinary volunteers,” “high school sports,” “weather events,” “civic meetings,” and “social justice,” among others. An app screenshot on the Google Bulletin site shows a post with the headline, “Winter storm floods river, wipes out Nelson Road.”

Morehead said the company will work with local news organizations to help them find and potentially publish some of those stories, giving credit to their authors. The author controls the content and can take it down anytime they want.

It’s hard to say without more information how useful this will prove. But it’s part of a trend of the big tech platforms beginning to look at how they can help to repair the news economy that they disrupted. Facebook this week began testing in Olympia, Washington, a local news and events page that highlights stories from local media.

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