Ask.com has quietly launched a news page called "BigNews" that aggregates top news stories from a variety of sites ranging from The New York Times to small blogs.
The company, whose parent companyover plans to split off its different brands, enters a crowded field with more established news aggregators like Yahoo, Microsoft, and even Google, as well as sites like Digg and Topix.
Ask.com says the news page stories are dynamically generated based on freshness, source authority, social media references, article content, and multimedia availability. You can use a source filter to search for stories based on geographic region and track stories via the site or RSS.
The top stories on the site Thursday afternoon were Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney dropping out of the race, the Shuttle Atlantis launch, U.S. Defense Secretary defending NATO's mission in Afghanistan, two studies concluding that biofuels are not so green, and a Utah couple and their dog rescued after being stranded for 12 days in the snow.
By contrast, Romney, Atlantis, and a story on a baby found alive amid the wreckage of a tornado in Tennessee led on Yahoo News, which was similar to news on the MSN and AOL portals. Google News led with Romney, mob raids in Italy and the U.S., and a standoff between police and a gunman in Los Angeles.