As the news moves away from traditional media outlets to encompass more blogs and social media, trying to follow the news cycle on the web can be an excercise in futility. There are some great topic-specific sites (the TC staff are all avid readers of Techmeme). But when it comes to monitoring the news across all topics, many of the current offerings, like Google News, can fall short — oftentimes intresting news sources are ignored, or stories are missed entirely. Thoora, a new site that’s launching today in private beta at TechCrunch50, thinks it has the answer.
The site offers an automated system that aggregates news stories from blogs, traditional media, and tweets, and groups them into “story clouds”. But rather than pay attention to a news site’s authority, Thoora is concerned with how interesting and unique a post is — this isn’t just about the top 100 blogs on the web. The company says that it will find blog posts about a breaking news story, even if nobody else has linked to them (provided they’re interesting, of course). You can easily see how many total blogs and news stories have been published about a story, as well as interesting stats like when the story first broke and how popular it is on Twitter.
Users can browse through the site by category (the site includes sections on Entertainment, Businesses, Lifestyle, and more) as well as a section that features recently controversial content. The system is also built to handle the real-time web. As bloggers, Twitter users, and other news sites jump on to a breaking story, Thoora will let you watch as new posts come in.
Q&A with panelists Dick Costolo, Reid Hoffman, Sean Parker, Mike Schroepfer, and Robert Scoble:
RS: How will you remove noise?
A: There are two kinds of stories. We’re going to separate older ones and the ones as they break in real time.
RH: The question of news aggregation as a business model has not been solved. Also how to differentiate from Google News. Sustainable competitive edge.
DC: You have things like Techmeme. Even when you innovate on UI, you don’t see people flocking to those, I’m not sure why.
A: We’re opening up beta today for the first 2000 people to sign up. We’ve built in social integration so you can share.
SP: You need a dist. strategy. Either something that’s viral or organic. This is a crowded space, dealing with lots of permutations of the same features.
TC50: Does the world need another news aggregator? Thoora thinks it does VentureBeat.