An evening’s time, a few gold pieces for buying drinks and making friends, and a DC 10 Gather Information check get you a general idea of a city’s major news items, assuming there are no obvious reasons why the information would be withheld. The higher your check result, the better the information.
Yes, but it takes time for each check. Furthermore, you may draw attention to yourself if you repeatedly pursue a certain type of information.
Can be used untrained.