Howard Owens says Topix is not a friend of newspapers. In his post, Topix getting more aggressive in going after local information franchise, he writes:

They’ve been taking your headlines and links, even your photos, and using them to build a community of people interested in those local topics, your franchise. And all the while, trying to build a local classified network of FREE classifieds.

Now comes word that they’re going after your event listings, your business listings and your movie listings.

Scraping content and wrapping ads around it is becoming the equivalent of the old rip-and-read at the local radio station, but more worrying, of course, given the nature of the ‘net.

Franky, I haven’t been paying much attention to Topix, so I went to take a look at see how a big threat it might be to local media. So far, not much. There’s not much advertising on the Vancouver page.

Worse is the front page of the site itself. It correctly picked up I was browsing from Vancouver, and gave me Vancouver news (but not much) in the top box. But the three top-of-the-page teasers are all for American stories (Cheney, American oil companies and that odd teen pregnancy story).

The news box immediately below the Vancouver panel is US News, followed by World News, Video and a 2008 Presidential Election special. There’s nothing Canadian in the Sports and Entertainment boxes, either.

Basically, it’s yet another aggregator of US-centric news. They can offer all the classifieds and local listings they want but, I suspect, most readers in Vancouver aren’t going to make it past that weak front page, let alone settle in to populate a community.

I don’t think I’d be terribly worried with Topix based on how it presents itself now. To resort to cliché, when it comes to Canada, there’s not much there there.

Currently playing in iTunes: Despues de los Mantras by Rosa Zaragoza

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