A way to check our perceptions and intuitions against those of other people. Are we frightened? And so on.
I definitely suffer from that snobbishness toward The Guardian - despite reading some of their reporting myself - that you were on about with Mark, although not to the point that I'd read The Times out of spite. I just see anything with a Guardian, New York Times etc endorsement and roll my eyes. It reminds me of my aunt who's always reading whatever's currently being billed as the book you have to read by them.