Why do people read about candy robberies?
A few days ago, when having a look on the biggest news websites, I stumbled upon this life changing headline on stern.de: ‘’Thief breaks into a car — because of a Kit Kat’’. The article was about an US student who, when returning to his parked car, found a note inside saying: ‘’Saw Kit Kat in your cup holder. I love Kit Kats so I checked your door and it was unlocked. Did not take anything other than the Kit Kat. I am sorry and hungry.’’ Well, as you could easily have told from the title, this news does not contain any information of importance for whomever (- at the most you could take it as a warning for car owners to always lock their vehicle?). Even though the article is not telling anything valuable, people still read it. The German ‘’Stern’’ magazine was only one of hundreds of news papers who dealt with this incident.
So, what’s the reason for people reading those ridiculously irrelevant stories?
One of the factors determining the news value of a story is the meaningfulness. This term ‘‘relates to the sense of identification the audience has with the topic.’’ Here’s the proof. When I showed the article to a friend, her reaction was: ‘‘Could be me.’’ Plus, people read those stories since they do not ask much of them, basically no thinking at all, and it could count as a nice distraction from their hectic work life and the omnipresent bad news. Those articles might be called entertaining but nothing more than that. Besides, one could easily think of countless more entertaining things.
The first article our course instructor Geoffrey presented to us was: ‘‘News is bad for you — giving up reading it will make you happier’’. One of the points the author makes is the irrelevancy of news since probably none of the thousands of stories we might have read in the last year allowed us to make a better decision in life. Relating this to the story about the candy robbery, surely no one would contradict the author. If it is generally true, is a question everyone should answer individually.