Over the weekend I was catching up on some work, some reading, some writing and listening to some podcasts. Yes it’s been a productive weekend, especially compared to some of my FAR boozier weekends that I’m used to. So why am I writing this, well I’ve decided to take some notes on the podcasts I listen to. It’s a bit like being in University and listening to a lecture. If I didn’t write something down whilst there, I wouldn’t remember it a few days later.
So here’s the last one I listened to this weekend:
Freakonomics Radio – Why do we really follow the news?
If you have never read Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner then I highly recommend it. It’s pure economics, brought down to earth in examples that you can really understand. It’s got answers some great questions like:
– Which is more dangerous, a gun or a swimming pool?
– What do schoolteachers and sumo wrestlers have in common?
– How much do parents really matter?
Anyways, since then they started a podcast by the same name and its great. They answer an awesome question and then they break down, with real statistics and most importantly, opinions from both sides of whatever the argument is.
Back to the Freakonomics Podcast
In this episode they break down the need we have for stories and for linking those stories to ourselves. They talk about the news being a form of entertainment, evolved from what was a necessity for our ancestors. “we’re genetically disposed to pursue news”. We’re talking about listening to the stories of how an animal attacked someone over there, or that this particular plant may kill you, but now it may well have just become something to watch for simple entertainment.
We don’t live in scary and dangerous times like we used to, so maybe that need is no longer as relevant as a survival tool.
They also bring up a really interesting point, are people who are News Junkies just doing it so as they can come across as smart in conversations with others. Is it a way to position yourself above somebody else who hasn’t read that story yet.
In looking at what news people watch, listen to, it is referred to as being silo’d and that people only really visit the silo that meets their criteria, or that simply put agrees with their views. It’s an interesting point when we think about different newspapers here in the UK and we remember that each paper has at least a stereotypical audience.