Why We Care So Much about the News

Stanford economist Matthew Gentzkow from "Why Do We Really Follow the News?" Freakonomics Radio, Aug. 5, 2015:

I think a lot of people would say there’s entertainment value to news. But I think that by itself kind of misses something important.

There’s a lot of research in psychology about the importance of telling stories and building narratives for people. People like to look at their own lives as a story. They like to see kind of the arc of the challenges that they overcame and define themselves as a character in that story. And to me that makes a lot of sense of why we care so much about news, because if what I’m thinking about all the time is my own life story and my own role in it, then you know, what’s happening in the world around me is the context that that story’s happening in.