Topix Reboots As a CitJ-News Search Hybrid

Topix, jointly majority-owned by Gannett, Tribune and McClatchy, is migrating the site from the .net domain to, and will launch it later tonight. The site will also get a significant change of focus from being a news search engine with comments/discussions, to a citizen-journalism news site, which will also have news search as part of it.
Topix CEO Rich Skrenta gave me a demo this Friday in LA.
Much like before, the site’s focus is on zip code-based local news. The section and zip-code homepages will become a hub of citizen-generated news (more in implementation than Digg), with easy-to-use tools for users to blog/vote stories onto the main and section pages. Interestingly, the company will kill its main homepage, and use it only as an entry page to other local pages.
Anyone can now submit local news for any U.S. zip code through the site or through mobiles. Participants can also become editors of the local pages. The community part for it has been growing rapidly since comments/discussion were added last year (it says it gets 30K comments everyday now).
For pages which don’t get use-editors, Topix will continue to use it software algorithm to categorize the news.
I have talked in the past about Topix’s “rut of low visibility”, and this is a risky yet ambitious attempt to redefine the site. Competition is heavy; managing and evaluating user contributions, and keeping signal-to-noise ratio high will be a challenge, but Topix intends to use a mix of human plus software intelligence for it.
Update: CEO Skrenta explains the move in details on the company blog.
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