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Google tests hyper-local news posting with Bulletin

A tool to enable communities to report news quickly is being tested in Nashville and Oakland. But how will it separate signal from noise?

Google wants to enable community news with a new tool, open to anyone who wants to post.

Google's often developing experimental software and ideas in smaller test markets. Local news looks like it's next. But it's not clear how Google will make it all work.

Bulletin, a new Google tool for posting extremely local small-community news, quietly launched yesterday. A sign-up page is now live. It's being tested in two markets right now: Oakland, California and Nashville, Tennessee. It's a phone app that looks to streamline quick posting of breaking stories by anyone.

Google's Maggie Shields commented to CNET on what Google most definitely considers an experiment: "Bulletin is an experimental app that gives people an easy way to tell stories about what is going on around them -- ranging from local bookstore readings to high school sporting events to information about local street closures. We are excited to see how people use the app during this pilot phase."

The community guidelines for using Bulletin are posted here.

It looks like a social app, but promises to enable quick posts of text, photos and video clips that can be easily found "on Google search, through social networks, or via links sent by email and messaging apps," according to Google's page for pilot sign-ups.

Updated Jan. 26 at 12:38 p.m. ET: Adds comment from Google, and link to Bulletin community guidelines.


A look at the Bulletin app.


A report from Slate's Will Oremus links to a video of a Bulletin presentation given to early invited testers. It's meant for everything "from protests to things that are totally unexpected, and thousands of things beyond that," product manager James Morehead says in the video posted from the Nashville launch event.

It sounds like what social media already does, largely. Google's page doesn't indicate how the app will identify the veracity of posts.