Chatting with colleagues about "hyperlocal" journalism as the future of newspapers, I finally came up with the right metaphor for a phenomenon we all experience: that our interest in a subject is in inverse proportion to its distance (geographic, emotional or otherwise) from us.
For instance, the news that my daughter got a scraped knee on the playground today means more to me than a car bombing in Kandahar.
Am I proud of this? No. But it's true. And it explains why I've stopped listening to NPR (I can't think of a worse way to wake up than to a news report that begins with the words "Another bombing in Baghdad..." when I know that one of the main reasons for the attack was to get covered by the international media in the first place. Plus it no longer counts as news to me.)
I call this the Vanishing Point theory of news.
There's nothing new about this (it's a truism of the American newsroom that Paris, Texas counts for more than Paris, France), but it bears repeating. The future of media is to stop boring us with news that doesn't relate to our lives. I'll start reading my "local" newspaper again when it covers my block.