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Google has begun to place geotagged news stories in Google Earth. By mousing over news icons on the map, preview windows appear that show stories from Google News. This adds to the news stories it was already plotting via its partnership with The New York Times.

This is also similar to what MetaCarta does with news stories from the AP and others (profiled in a past post). This type of news discovery adds a new use case to the traditional method of browsing headlines. It also makes searching for stories easier when they are known to be geographically confined, such as a breaking story about a natural disaster or Democratic primary coverage.

It also has implications for hyperlocal, if a nationally scaled hyperlocal news and content site such as Topix or were to add a view that lets users search news stories using a map. These sites are built on the proposition to have a city or town page be your jumping off point to a local news gathering experience. But a map with geotagged stories could also have some appeal in seeing how stories plot out geographically or quickly panning around to see what is happening in other communities.

Geotagged photos from Flickr are perhaps the most popular application of this type of thing so far (Google has begun to do the same with videos with less takeup so far), but news is something that could similarly “map” well in this type of scenario. It’s mostly a novelty so far, but could gain popularity and commercial potential if given more exposure. Some newspapers have already begun to get creative with mapping mashups and local content.

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