Ask anyone what the most important issues in the world are today and one,two or all of the items in the list below are likely to come up. This is no particular order:
Iran, the war in Afghanistan, the economic downturn, Russia, global warming, Pakistan attacks, Middle East peace, China, Iraq
On a global scale, these are the most important stories – yes ?. These are the stories we are most interested in, right? According to one or two indices, wrong.
They are not what we are most interested in, judging by news websites in across the globe.
On Friday relentless attacks on Pakistan continued with a fresh one in Peshawar. Yet the two stories that lead on most news channel were: The balloon boy story, (still top news on CNN today) and the Australian baby in the stroller who escaped death by a train.
So, are we becoming obsessed with soft news? Surely what should interest us as humans are relevant subjects like global warming and the world food crisis. Instead we tend to gravitate towards the unusual and the bizarre.
We want to read about Britney Spears shaving her head and Jade Goody’s last pictures. When Michael Jackson died some news channels ran on it for days (given Michael Jackson is a huge deal but we still had some criticism at WHYS for doing it twice from two different angles but it was what people were talking about)
So, are we interested in the wrong things then? Should we care more about the issues that matter like Middle East peace and Global warming? Is it the media’s fault for not making these serious stories more interesting and attention grabbing or is it human nature to tilt towards the abnormal? With Afghanistan and Pakistan making news headlines everyday, is it normal that we lose interest and when Balloon Boy comes up we’re instantly hooked?
And does our interest in theses stories show that we’re well rounded? We’re interested in Falcon Heene’s story (balloon boy) and the Pakistan attacks, in the Australian baby and the economic downturn.
This was before my time, but Mark was speaking to someone in the World Service newsroom a couple of years ago explaining that WHYS is all about what people are talking about and not necessarily about the news agenda. This person replied saying: Well in this case today you should be discussing the man who married his goat ! When this story came out it was one of the bloodiest months in Iraq yet, ‘ Sudanese Man Forced to Marry His Goat’ was the most read story on the BBC website.
What was the story that grabbed your attention today? I’ll start, and I’ll be very very honest. It was this one.