Let's say there is a fire on your street right at this very moment.
You might share the news by tweeting about it, posting about it on your personal blog, or sharing a photo through a Facebook post. Going one step further, let's say there is a community event, like a book fair, you want to promote. Again, you might use Twitter, your blog, or maybe even a Facebook page or group to spread the word.
The thing is, none of these options, especially if it's about a hyper-local news story or event, are very discoverable in Google search results. People usually can't 'google' that fire on your street and find your Facebook status. They'd have to go directly to Facebook, Twitter, etc, and then search those respective platforms for that exact fire.
Plus, each of these platforms have a learning curve, which makes it hard for many people to not only share their local news but find it. Imagine if there was an easier solution. Well, Google did. The result is Bulletin.
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What is Google Bulletin?
Google Bulletin is an app from Google. It's new and currently in testing. The point of Bulletin is to give people the ability to share hyperlocal stories about their community - right from their phone. It's supposed to make it "effortless to put a spotlight on inspiring stories that aren’t being told", according to a bare-bones Google post about the app.
There are three main aspects to Bulletin: First, it's supposed to help you tell the stories that aren’t being told; second, Bulletin stories are always public and easy to discover in Google search results, as well as through social networks or via links sent by email and messaging apps; third, no setup is required to create a story. You just need a phone.
How does Google Bulletin work?
Get the app
Google Bulletin is billed as a "free, lightweight app". It is currently in a limited pilot. To be considered for the pilot, you have to request early access. Go here to submit a request. There's no guarantee you'll be approved. Set up will likely require nothing more than a Google account, so it should be an easy way to become a citizen journalist.
Tell and share a story
Details are still thin, but it appears the app will let you capture and share photos, videoclips, and text right from your phone. These will be published "straight to the web" -- without you having to create a blog or build a website. It’s not clear whether Google will edit or curate these stories, in an effort to vet them for accuracy and quality.
Google said you'll also be able to share a story through social networks or via links from email and messaging apps. According to blogger Sami Cone, who reported that she was at Google’s quiet launch event for Bulletin in Nashville, you will be able to update your story continuously, sort of a like a live blog, and see real-time viewership stats.
The official Google Bulletin site is not yet live, though, presumably, when it does launch, you'll be able to use it to find and view Bulletin stories. However, Google has emphasised the service only needs a phone, and that Bulletin stories will always be public and easy to discover in Google search results. So, the point of the site is a little muddy.
Google Bulletin seems to be related to Google News, because “community guidelines” for Bulletin are included in the Google News support page. That's not surprising, considering these Bulletin stories are public and blog-like, with users able to publish them straight to the web, so they'll have immense Google News-like discoverability.
Where is Google Bulletin available?
Bulletin is now available in Nashville, Tennessee and Oakland, California.
When can you try it?
Google hasn't yet said when Bulletin will exit the limited pilot phase and be widely available for all to use. To be considered for the pilot in Nashville or Oakland, go here to submit a request.
Want to know more?
Blogger Sami Cone, who reported that she was at Google’s quiet launch event for Bulletin in Nashville, published a blog post and a video of the launch event on YouTube. You can watch that video above.