Hyper-local news blog is up and running

I got back from 4-day trip to Ohio this week and immediately started work on a hyper-local news blog, Madison Pike. Setting up aggregation of local news sources was easy. I also located a WordPress plugin that lets me easily turn any post into a calendar event. So by pulling in a feed of city hall news items, for example, I can immediately turn their announcement of a commission meeting into a calendar event. Slick. But trying to pull in other local resources it turning out to be more of a challenge.

What I’d like to have is an easy way to pull in the restaurant database for Madison from Yelp or Urbanspoon and display business basics like average rating, location and hours. Other than that everything would link back to the ratings site. I’m a little surprise neither Yelp nor Urbanspoon offer widgets for this. Yelp seems to have an API for this purpose, but I’m not immediately excited to dig into that. It’s not about stealing traffic. I’m more likely to send traffic their way.

Next up is getting local crime date into a mappable database. I’m thinking of using Google Docs and Google Maps to get this done, but will first spend some time sorting through WordPress plugins to see if there isn’t a more integrated solution.