Many, many months ago, we caught up with Mike Orren, founder of a start-up called Pegasus News in Texas. Orren was humping it trying to push his vision for a local news site out the door on a tight budget. Pegasus got a fair bit of hype before ever launching a product, the result of the all the interest in citizen journalism last year. He launched TexasGigs, a local music site, first, and kept working toward his goal of a broader news site.
Orren has finally launched his local news site. It’s a wonderfully designed and easy-to-use site, built on top of the Django web framework using the Ellington software developed in Lawrence, Kansas. Of particular note are two things Pegasus is doing to make its news relevant to readers. One is called The Daily You, which observes what kind of news stories you click on and tries to serve you up a personalized news diet.
If you are a registered user, every time you click on a page in the site that is tagged, we add emphasis to other items with similar tags — the more specifc the category, the higher the score. Then, based on that score — and how it compares to the reading habits of other users on the site, as well as how much content you could have checked out in that category — we deliver customized news and information. Anywhere on the site that you see The Daily You™, it means that we’re working to make sure you can easily find the things that most interest you, without having to wade through a lot of irrelevant information.
And soon, we’ll start using The Daily You™ to deliver the advertising you see on the site, meaning that we’ll try not to bother you with a bunch of ads for things that you aren’t interested in. That also means that our advertisers will get a bigger bang for their buck, not wasting their money waving for attention from people who haven’t demonstrated an interest in their products. We also will use geography in that calculation so that someone living in West Fort Worth won’t be bothered with an ad for a dry cleaner in East Dallas.
Pegasus also appears to be geocoding its content somehow and matching it to registration data so that users get news that is locally relevant to them.
We’ll be watching Pegasus closely for two reasons. One because it’s a local, independent news site working creatively to connect with its readers. And two, because it’s built on Django, which we also using for the backbone of a new site. So far, so good in Texas.
01 Dec 2006 Michael