Attack Cat is Big News

I like to check out the “most emailed articles” page on the Boston Globe website. There I can find what are (usually) some of the most important stories and some outrageously funny ones as well.

At this time, Monday evening at 6:15, the most emailed article is “Deconstructing Cheney” in which 779 emails were sent around with it as an attachment. The second most emailed article is “Boston’s Jewish Renaissance.” Two good stories that are interesting to read.

The third most emailed article is the one that puzzles me. “How to deal with your cute, crazy attack cat” has been passed around 285 times. This important piece of journalistic work of 618 words has impacted people enough to share with others. Oy.

Published on November 3rd, this article has been in the top 10 emailed articles for almost a week. Is this a representation of what people really feel is important in the news today? Do that many Bostonians have problems with their felines? Or is the nature of the story so funny that people passed it on for laughs? Perhaps last Thursday was a slow news day.

In any case, this is what is being passed around New England to read. If anything it shows me that hard hitting breaking news stories aren’t the most important things to regular people in the newspaper. Even a well-written story on the “Pet Beat” can touch people’s lives and gain readers.

A friend of mine in the journalism department told me a couple of weeks ago that he wanted to cover the “Leisure Beat.” Perhaps he’s on the right track.

Josh (not verified) @ November 7, 2005 - 10:00pm

Here's another take. Our culture is so media-saturated that hard news, especially when it's important and of a national or international nature, is so widely available that it doesn't need to be passed around hundreds of times. Especially if you can get the same piece (or a piece on the same topic) on every major news web site in the country, it can be passed around thousands of times and only a dozen or so from each web site.

On the other hand, a cute article that appears on one site (and hopefully got stuck somewhere around page C6 or so in the print version), Meanwhile, several hundred people have found the article cute enough to pass on to their parents, co-workers and friends as a diversion.

Another thing that's at play here is the blog effect, I bet. A dozen people see an interesting article; ten of them blog about it while two e-mail to it their co-workers, but all of them send the attack cat article to their respective mothers.

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