With its background in search, it should not be a surprise that Yahoo’s news division plans to use search queries to drive another portion of its business–news. However, what is surprising is that it will basically be the first major news provider to do so.
Yahoo’s search users would in essence become the assignment editor. Whatever topics appear frequently in those queries would then be passed on to the company’s team of editors and bloggers, and stories would be written based on those findings.
The blog will be called The Upshot, and would be launched Tuesday (editors note: the previous link won’t work until then). According to the New York Times, Yahoo hopes this would result in a news blog that would be catered to what their users want to read.
Is it a risky experiment? I’d say yes. Depending on the hot news of the day, you could be seeing news on the oil spill one day, and the latest on Lindsay Lohan’s never dull social life the next. I’m hoping however that those mining the Yahoo search queries will help to smooth out the obvious shifts in our collective mindset to provide a less schizophrenic look at the news.
At the same time, that data could also give Yahoo a leg up on the competition in seeing trends on what potential readers may look for which isn’t being covered in the media. I’m curious to see if it works. If it does, and other news outlets pick up on the idea, are the days of the assignment editor numbered?