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The news is everywhere. We can’t stop constantly checking it on our computer screens, but what is this doing to our minds?   We are never really taught how to make sense of the torrent of news we face every day, writes Alain de Botton (author of the best-selling The Architecture of Happiness), but this has a huge impact on our sense of what matters and of how we should lead The news is everywhere. We can’t stop constantly checking it on our computer screens, but what is this doing to our minds?   We are never really taught how to make sense of the torrent of news we face every day, writes Alain de Botton (author of the best-selling The Architecture of Happiness), but this has a huge impact on our sense of what matters and of how we should lead our lives. In his dazzling new book, de Botton takes twenty-five archetypal news stories—including an airplane crash, a murder, a celebrity interview and a political scandal—and submits them to unusually intense analysis with a view to helping us navigate our news-soaked age. He raises such questions as Why are disaster stories often so uplifting? What makes the love lives of celebrities so interesting? Why do we enjoy watching politicians being brought down? Why are upheavals in far-off lands often so boring?   In The News: A User’s Manual, de Botton has written the ultimate guide for our frenzied era, certain to bring calm, understanding and a measure of sanity to our daily (perhaps even hourly) interactions with the news machine. (With black-and-white illustrations throughout.)


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The news is everywhere. We can’t stop constantly checking it on our computer screens, but what is this doing to our minds?   We are never really taught how to make sense of the torrent of news we face every day, writes Alain de Botton (author of the best-selling The Architecture of Happiness), but this has a huge impact on our sense of what matters and of how we should lead The news is everywhere. We can’t stop constantly checking it on our computer screens, but what is this doing to our minds?   We are never really taught how to make sense of the torrent of news we face every day, writes Alain de Botton (author of the best-selling The Architecture of Happiness), but this has a huge impact on our sense of what matters and of how we should lead our lives. In his dazzling new book, de Botton takes twenty-five archetypal news stories—including an airplane crash, a murder, a celebrity interview and a political scandal—and submits them to unusually intense analysis with a view to helping us navigate our news-soaked age. He raises such questions as Why are disaster stories often so uplifting? What makes the love lives of celebrities so interesting? Why do we enjoy watching politicians being brought down? Why are upheavals in far-off lands often so boring?   In The News: A User’s Manual, de Botton has written the ultimate guide for our frenzied era, certain to bring calm, understanding and a measure of sanity to our daily (perhaps even hourly) interactions with the news machine. (With black-and-white illustrations throughout.)

30 review for The News: A User's Manual

  1. 4 out of 5

    Matthias

    When is the last time you heard something new in the news? Considering all the time spent reading, watching and listening to the news, what did you learn from it? What do you remember? What remains of all this information aside some vague ideas about the economy, the other side of the world, your compatriots? I was wondering about these questions myself and decided that instead of reading the news, it was time to read about the news. Alain de Botton, an author relatively unknown to me before my e When is the last time you heard something new in the news? Considering all the time spent reading, watching and listening to the news, what did you learn from it? What do you remember? What remains of all this information aside some vague ideas about the economy, the other side of the world, your compatriots? I was wondering about these questions myself and decided that instead of reading the news, it was time to read about the news. Alain de Botton, an author relatively unknown to me before my eye fell on this book, seems to be mostly famous for endeavoring to bring philosophy and psychology closer to the people. He tries to accomplish this by linking topics close to people's hearts, such as love and traveling, to grander ideas, hoping to create a greater consciousness of being well and truly alive. Popularising philosophy always comes with certain dangers, of oversimplification for example, and apparently the dear man has come under some harsh criticism, but I like what he's trying to do. Even more so because in this book he chose to address a topic that I feel rather strongly about. The news is omnipresent. Every minute of the day one can plug into the world information machine and receive an overwhelming stream of data, stories and events. Important information. Crucial information. You can read and hear about it everywhere, television programming is organised around the holy hours of 1, 6, 8 and 11 PM in which news bulletins spread their gospel. Radios have an even stricter regimen with hourly updates and repetitions on the important goings on in the country and in the world. In his introduction, incidentally my favorite part of any non-fiction book, de Botton managed to crystallize the general, fluid antipathy I feel towards the news and the respect it garners. The unease I felt with opaque news organisations' largely unacknowledged but nonetheless exceedingly high demand on our time and attention got a clear formulation through this book's opening chapters. The way news anchors condescendingly tell me when to be worried through their frowns, when to take note of serious and difficult economic trends and when to be happy with their merry reports of animals born in a zoo at the end of their depressing bulletins has annoyed me for many years, and it seems I'm not alone in this. The symmetry with organised religion is inescapable, what with the regular hours and the formulaic way each bulletin is organised into well-timed segments of sensational news, serious news, sports, the weather and some town's festivities to round it all off in a spasm of happy ending. I tried to disconnect from it all, limiting myself to opinion pieces and word on the street. If it's really important, I'll hear about it in the cafeteria at work. But there seems to be no way to truly disconnect. My phone's home screen gives me unwanted headlines of people murdered, people arrested, celebrities spotted in their underwear and cataclysmic weather events. But not only technology is an adversary in my struggles. If one doesn't follow the news, one is considered an idiot. Today it might be blasphemy to be a fully clothed woman on a French beach, but what's even worse is not knowing about the whole hubbub surrounding this issue. The news wields an almost dictatorial, unquestioned power over our senses. We must LISTEN to the news. We must STUDY the news. We must FORM OPINIONS and DISCUSS these IMPORTANT events. Only to forget about them a week later and talk about something else. This book takes you through the news by looking at how different kinds of information speak to us. Why are we so drawn to stories about accidents? Are we really happy when watching feel-good programmes with stories of ludicrously successful people? What do we feel and think about when reading yet another story of a dad murdering his children and committing suicide? What's with the giddy anticipation when there's news of an approaching blizzard? Alain de Botton takes us through all these questions and more, in the way a stand-up comedian would: by pointing out controversial but surprisingly common inner thought processes that we all recognise but thought to be only valid for ourselves, in the context of something mundane like shopping, asking out a girl or ... the news. In this book, an endearing "we" is used and it works convincingly most of the time, but when it doesn't, the writer comes off just as bad as the conceited news anchors. A thin line any writer pretending to know his reader walks on, and a personal one. For me de Botton usually stays at the right side of it so that it felt like he held up a mirror, but it all depends on how much you identify yourself with his opinion. The way de Botton states his opinion is what will have me read more of his books in the future. I love his prose. As some of you may know I'm not particularly fond of non-fiction, usually haunted by dry prose and factual elaborations. But this book is a page-turner and that's not just because many pages are adorned with pictures, news cuttings and white space. Just consider the following quote: "Stock indices leave one juggling a set of varied feelings of admiration for the fertility of modern business, a wonder at the extraordinary degree of intelligence and effort demanded to succeed in any industry, and yet a guilty sense of the absurdity and waste of so much of our toil and, in the middle of the night, when the mind tends to avenge itself on the compromises of the day, a pained wonder at what we might be doing with the ever-more precious bit that still remains of our lives." You have to hand it to him, to jump from stock indices to the image of a pained and self-doubting insomniac in one sentence takes some doing. Or how about the weather? "In the case of this snowstorm, the forecasters have the monster well mapped. In the National Weather Center, an IBM Power 7 supercomputer, with a peak processing performance of one petaflop, keeps the glacial spectre firmly within its sights, though the ability to predict what will happen gives the experts no power whatsoever to alter nature's implacable intent." Whoa, if only the weather man talked like that. With comedy, a relieved sigh of "Aaah, you as well?" precedes uproarious laughter and we applaud. In a novel graced with fine prose, we get taken away by the images forming in our minds. But lest you forget, this book is not intended for purely comedic or artistic effect. Now that I own the BBC What am I supposed to do with this thing? Now that I own the BBC What am I supposed to make of this thing? - Sparks The talented Mael brothers already wondered what they'd do if they'd own the BBC (apart from broadcasting their own underappreciated songs), and Alain de Botton now provides a moralistic answer, pointing out the possibilities of the news' enormous power and where it could help people in leading better, more fulfilling lives. A tall order. While I could easily accept the news as a great vantage point to discern more of man's nature, his internal struggles and sources of happiness, I'm not convinced an exercise in the other direction is fruitful. The author took it upon himself to devise ways to make news better for the people and lost some credibility in doing so. He investigates different kinds of news (political, international, economic, celebrity, disaster and consumer news) and provides a way forward for all of these. For example, while I found the explanation for a longing for fame quite appealing, I didn't find the way it got turned around convincing. : "Celebrity News In this category, we would be introduced to some of the most admirable people of our era - as judged by mature and subtle criteria - and guided as to how we might draw inspiration and advice from them. The famous would make us envious in productive and measured ways, helping us to realise our own genuine but timid talents by the example of their audacity and perseverance. But we would also be reminded that the best cure for a longing of fame would ultimately be a world in which kindness and respect were more generously and evenly distributed." Basically the red line through all of his lessons is that news should be more like books. To turn articles on crimes into true crime novels. To turn tables and figures of the stock exchange into gripping stories of stressed managers trying to delay heart attacks and save their marriage. To provide a clear, full and nuanced image of everyday life on an island while reporting on the earthquake that devastated it. But does anyone really have time for that? What doesn't help is that in all of this, it seems like the reader is a precious little flower who needs to be cradled and fed by the news, unable to find context for himself. Maybe the news needs to change, but there's room for the recipients of the information machine to be educated as well, preferably outside of the news. An aspect that was largely (though not completely) ignored in this book. In all, this was definitely an entertaining and informative read, but it kind of fell flat during the overly ambitious and naive conclusion. My own conclusion? Screw all that news! Unplug! But maybe it's me who's being naive. In my view, what de Botton proposes already exists but it just isn't going to be found in the news. It's called a library.

  2. 4 out of 5

    nomadreader (Carrie D-L)

    (originally published at http://nomadreader.blogspot.com) The basics: The News: A User's Manual is a manifesto for what we should want and demand from news organizations, as well as a critique of their current offerings. My thoughts: I majored in journalism as an undergraduate, and although I walked away from my desire to ever be a journalist, I still have a deep love for journalism. I spend a lot of time with the news, as a consumer and as a critic. I assumed I was the target audience for th (originally published at http://nomadreader.blogspot.com) The basics: The News: A User's Manual is a manifesto for what we should want and demand from news organizations, as well as a critique of their current offerings. My thoughts: I majored in journalism as an undergraduate, and although I walked away from my desire to ever be a journalist, I still have a deep love for journalism. I spend a lot of time with the news, as a consumer and as a critic. I assumed I was the target audience for this book, but de Botton operates under the faulty assumption that no one else has ever thought critically about the news and its role in our lives. To be fair, the more I read, the more I came to believe de Botton isn't interested in being a journalist himself, and this book is less an examination of the news as it is a personal examination of the news. de Botton doesn't investigate the large body of historical or contemporary news criticism. Instead, he seeks to do it all himself. Again, at times this approach is more successful than at others. Alain de Botton is not a journalist, and his lack of knowledge about journalism shows in this book, for good and for bad. Having an outsider's perspective brings a certain freshness to the topic, but it also causes a few major missteps. Too often de Botton speaks about news outlets as a single, monolith beast. As anyone who follows news and its increasingly few corporate owners, this trend is alarmingly true, but de Botton doesn't separate the majority from the minority. In this age of the Internet, there are important journalist voices working outside of this mainstream. More disturbingly, de Botton never addresses his decidedly British perspective. At times, it was clear he was talking about his experience with British news, but at times it wasn't. There are significant differences between news organizations in the UK and the U.S., and de Botton misses the opportunity to both clarify his points and articulate these differences. de Botton organizes this manifesto thematically, with sections on politics, world news, economics, celebrity, disaster, and consumption. Some of these sections were more interesting, and more original, than others. I particularly enjoyed the sections on world news and celebrity. In these sections, de Botton did a better job articulating the big picture and making an argument for and why things should be different. Favorite passage: "Foreign news wants to tell us with whom and where we should fight, trade or sympathize. But these three areas of interest aren't priorities for the majority of us." The verdict: The News: A User's Manual was at times an incredibly frustrating reading experience. I found the second half more successful than the first because de Botton began to more clearly express his point: to ask what news should be. It's an interesting exploration, but I don't think his approach successfully captured the complicated nature of what news currently is. Rating: 3.5 out of 5

  3. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

    Poor Alain de Botton gets a lot of stick for his pop philosophy, especially here in the UK. I’ve read most of his books and quite like them (The Art of Travel is probably my favorite), and I admire the work his School of Life does, especially on bibliotherapy. I didn’t get a chance to read this one all the way through because my Edelweiss download expired on publication day, but from skimming it I’d say this is among his weaker works. The premise, that laymen need help in figuring out how to read Poor Alain de Botton gets a lot of stick for his pop philosophy, especially here in the UK. I’ve read most of his books and quite like them (The Art of Travel is probably my favorite), and I admire the work his School of Life does, especially on bibliotherapy. I didn’t get a chance to read this one all the way through because my Edelweiss download expired on publication day, but from skimming it I’d say this is among his weaker works. The premise, that laymen need help in figuring out how to read and process the news, seems somewhat dubious. And even if such a task were necessary, is he really the one to help us? He keeps citing travel and art, especially architecture, in indulgent and even self-referential ways – bringing his own pet interests to bear on a subject he doesn’t know all that much about. De Botton has high standards for the news; he thinks in an ideal world its roles would include telling the truth, directing our attention, fostering sympathy (like George Eliot or Flaubert in another time), and awakening readers from their indifference. Ah, if only the news were conveyed in snippets as interesting and gripping as a given section of Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, he muses, journalism could have lasting literary merit. As Craig Brown said in his review for the Mail on Sunday, “[de Botton’s] books stimulate thought, even if the thought is ‘but that would NEVER WORK IN PRACTICE’.” That would certainly be an accurate response to his Religion for Atheists, which is full of lovely but entirely improbable suggestions for how thinking people might introduce the best of religion into their daily, secular lives without absorbing any of the nasty stuff. It cannot be denied, however, that we need our priorities adjusting when it comes to the news: we’d rather read about the Duchess of Cambridge’s baby and David Bowie’s new single than the latest civil wars in Africa. For that reason, “World News” and “Disaster” were the two best and most useful sections for me, while the chapters on politics, economics and celebrity I could take or leave. I agree with de Botton that photography has a special role in conveying information and emotion. He discovered on a (largely irrelevant) trip to Uganda that you don’t really understand a place until you see it on the ground; thus the (photo)journalist, like a travel writer, has the task of showing through words and images just what it’s like to be there. What I will probably take away from this book (which I am unlikely to read in full) is the idea of the news, especially that of catastrophes, as fulfilling a cathartic role: “There is a peculiar, though undeniable, benefit to be found in exposure to the sufferings of strangers. This might be because we are all, somewhere within us, uncomfortably sad and disappointed. We harbor, quietly, a lot of darkness...The crashes, cancers, explosions and fires relativize our own failures. Disaster bears within it a broad and helpful message: humanity suffers.” There’s been a particularly vituperative response to this book in the UK newspapers – perhaps journalists resent him butting in on their business and daring to venture an uneducated opinion. I chuckled at Brown’s characterization of de Botton as “both lofty and banal, a bit like God on an off-day.” The Evening Standard’s David Sexton concurred, stating that de Botton writes “with a preachiness that would give the most complacent vicar pause.” I prefer to think of de Botton as a genial thinker and dreamer. I saw him speak at Runnymede literary festival a few years ago and thought he seemed entirely pleasant and inoffensive (such that I could hardly believe the bitter screed he later launched at a writer who reviewed one of his books unfavorably in the New York Times). “Wouldn’t it be wonderful if...” de Botton starts, and even if some of the phrases he fills that blank with are less than realistic, you can’t help but love him for them anyway. If we could learn from our travels, if we could apply the best of philosophy to our everyday lives, if we could find purpose in our work, if we could take from the news a determination to be grateful for our own lot and empathize with others’ – why, the world just might be a better place.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Théodore

    I have to admit, first of all, that I haven't finished reading this book, not because it would be a bad one, but it's not quite my type of reading. Besides, he didn't bring me anything new, about News. A friend used to tell me the other day, that he hadn't watched TV in a few years, and news - for about 10 years. He was intrigued by the fact that out of 8 advertisements, 5 are for medicines, and the rest for products containing chemicals. Another friend told me that nowadays, the model from the G I have to admit, first of all, that I haven't finished reading this book, not because it would be a bad one, but it's not quite my type of reading. Besides, he didn't bring me anything new, about News. A friend used to tell me the other day, that he hadn't watched TV in a few years, and news - for about 10 years. He was intrigued by the fact that out of 8 advertisements, 5 are for medicines, and the rest for products containing chemicals. Another friend told me that nowadays, the model from the Grand Inquisitor has been updated , the one through which the control of humanity was achieved only by the insurance of daily bread. Now, in order to have control, you have to offer circus and bread, to keep people in a permanent and distressing assault with ( non) informations, the type of can-can ones. Because of this negative connotations of the Media, of télévision in particular, an anti-television movement was born, which began to be adopted as a value in itself. Lately, this very refusal to watch TV has become one of the indisputable proofs of the differentiation, a renouncement before the actual social interaction. On the other hand, if we have action, we also have re-action.There is also an anti-movement against opposition of watching TV. I know, it seems weird. If you are one of those who no longer watch TV, you risk becoming a snob, elitist, or even ignorant. I don't know what is more correct - to watch or not to watch TV, to inform yourself only strictly as much as you need, or have the freedom to reply to anti-movements ? It is difficult to say, but it is certain that our freedom of action is modified, even altered, due to the hundreds of news items we are assaulted with. It is mandatory, imperative even, to develop relevant sorting and selection skills, from all this information heap.I apologize to Botton for neglecting his book, but I don't think I lost more, exposing my own thoughts.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Ade

    Started well but I was weary of it and de Botton's seemingly repetitive arguments by the end. "Wouldn't it be great if the news was nicer?" He doesn't really tackle why the news is the way it is, or the influence and culture of large news organisations. Crucially, any personal experience or perspective is lacking in comparison to his better works such as The Art of Travel, which makes this a fairly tedious read over the long haul. Also, I usually enjoy his books because I learn about something n Started well but I was weary of it and de Botton's seemingly repetitive arguments by the end. "Wouldn't it be great if the news was nicer?" He doesn't really tackle why the news is the way it is, or the influence and culture of large news organisations. Crucially, any personal experience or perspective is lacking in comparison to his better works such as The Art of Travel, which makes this a fairly tedious read over the long haul. Also, I usually enjoy his books because I learn about something new to me from them, but this time he only regurgitates some previous tropes wholesale: Flaubert and Madame Bovery, Greek tragedy, etc. There is some benefit in going over the last chapter though, in which de Botton considers how we might best moderate the more negative influences of an endless diet of "important" news.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Ana

    This book studies the effects of the news on modern mentality, viewed through the prism of 25 news stories. Nothing innovative to me, but the writing was informative, clear and perfect for those with even a mild interest in the subject.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Patrick Sherriff

    Speaking as a reformed news junkie, this was the perfect book for me at the time I read it -- a month or so into swearing off the urge to tweet and Facebook every last inane thought that entered my head. I'm back blogging and tweeting and goodreading again, but in a much diminished capacity, and this book gives all the reasons why shunning the news cycle is an eminently sensible thing to do. As de Botton says, trying to understand the complex world around us with soundbites and headlines is like Speaking as a reformed news junkie, this was the perfect book for me at the time I read it -- a month or so into swearing off the urge to tweet and Facebook every last inane thought that entered my head. I'm back blogging and tweeting and goodreading again, but in a much diminished capacity, and this book gives all the reasons why shunning the news cycle is an eminently sensible thing to do. As de Botton says, trying to understand the complex world around us with soundbites and headlines is like trying to understand a Tolstoy novel one shouted sentence at a time. Smart stuff and an entertaining read.

  8. 5 out of 5

    J. Simons

    Alain de Botton is a modern-day philosopher who has tried to make the examination of topics as diverse as Religion, Happiness, Proust and Travel accessible to a wider audience. In his latest book, de Botton tackles the all-pervading concept of The News which he considers to occupy a position of power and influence comparable to that previously held by faith and religion in earlier civilizations. In this user’s manual, de Botton delves into how the media deals with politics, economics, disasters, Alain de Botton is a modern-day philosopher who has tried to make the examination of topics as diverse as Religion, Happiness, Proust and Travel accessible to a wider audience. In his latest book, de Botton tackles the all-pervading concept of The News which he considers to occupy a position of power and influence comparable to that previously held by faith and religion in earlier civilizations. In this user’s manual, de Botton delves into how the media deals with politics, economics, disasters, consumerism and world news. In particular, he casts an interesting light on the way the media handles celebrity, theorising that a person’s search for fame is merely a desire for the respect and kindness that was initially lost through rejection in childhood. He asks wide-ranging questions as to what should the news ideally be? What deep needs should it be catering for? How can news optimally enrich us? de Botton notes also how technology is changing the way we interact with news so that it is becoming a more personalised medium where rather than having the news pushed at us, we are filtering the news according to our own interests. But he also warns that we should not become too obsessed with the 24/7 accessibility to news and allow time to contemplate our own thoughts as well. If, as de Botton suggests, the news is the new religion, then this worthy and topical book is an important read for our times. Written for the Book Trust January 2014

  9. 5 out of 5

    Grace

    Alain I love you but you were trying to be a philosopher, a writer, a psychologist, and a social commentator in this book and it just ends up in disarray. The author writes beautifully; every time I read a book of his, my brain involuntarily marvelled at how someone could have such an astute mastery of the Queen's english. It's absolutely enjoyable to read a book that's made of beautiful sentences. But this book, oh, where should I start. Under its seemingly organised structure, the writing is i Alain I love you but you were trying to be a philosopher, a writer, a psychologist, and a social commentator in this book and it just ends up in disarray. The author writes beautifully; every time I read a book of his, my brain involuntarily marvelled at how someone could have such an astute mastery of the Queen's english. It's absolutely enjoyable to read a book that's made of beautiful sentences. But this book, oh, where should I start. Under its seemingly organised structure, the writing is inconsistent. In some chapters Alain poses a question and provides a solution; in some, he doesn't. In some, he has a clear idea about how to approach a certain type of news; in some, he isn't very sure. The uncertainty is jarring compared to some well-thought-out solutions. I'm sure the book is well-researched, but not many examples are used in it. Alain plainly explains why such news is such and every such paragraph reads like a conclusion of an academic essay people would never read. Know how we always skip the conclusions. Needless to say, without context, those analyses are hard to swallow. The entire book is so dry several times I wanted to give up reading. I pressed on but I can't say I liked it very much. Edit: I saw another review that says the book reads like an essay and I completely agree with that.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Jenny Domino

    interesting topic, but shallow. i felt like large portions were unexplored, and the book, merely a compilation of observations. some observations were interesting, but not enough to hold the book together. the first half was definitely better than the latter part (The chapter on Consumption was the worst, the ones on Politics and on World News, the best). nonetheless, i don't regret reading this, as it urges us to think more about the news we consume everyday, and how it might be better presente interesting topic, but shallow. i felt like large portions were unexplored, and the book, merely a compilation of observations. some observations were interesting, but not enough to hold the book together. the first half was definitely better than the latter part (The chapter on Consumption was the worst, the ones on Politics and on World News, the best). nonetheless, i don't regret reading this, as it urges us to think more about the news we consume everyday, and how it might be better presented.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Mary Ronan Drew

    Alain de Botton is again brilliant in The News: A User's Manual. He discusses how politics, economics, and disasters are covered by the media - or rather mis-covered. He encourages more narrative in news and less "objectivity" which he points out is almost nonexistent in today's news which is usually deeply biased. A quote: "A contemporary dictator wishing to establish power would not need to do anything so obviously sinister as banning the news: he or she would only have to see to it that news o Alain de Botton is again brilliant in The News: A User's Manual. He discusses how politics, economics, and disasters are covered by the media - or rather mis-covered. He encourages more narrative in news and less "objectivity" which he points out is almost nonexistent in today's news which is usually deeply biased. A quote: "A contemporary dictator wishing to establish power would not need to do anything so obviously sinister as banning the news: he or she would only have to see to it that news organizations broadcast a flow of random-sounding bulletins, in great numbers but with little explanation of context, within an agenda that keeps changing without giving any sense of the ongoing relevance of the issue that seemed pressing only a short while before, the whole interspersed with constant updates about the colorful antics of murderers and film stars. This would be quite enough to undermine most people's capacity to grasp political reality -- as well as any resolve they might otherwise have summoned to alter it. The status quo could confidently remain forever undisturbed by a flood of rather than a ban on, news."

  12. 5 out of 5

    Blair

    Took me two days to read and it feels like that's how long it took to write. I thought there might be some material in it that would be useful for school, and there was a bit, but it's very, very slight. I can imagine that journalists would be infuriated by this, as de Botton just doesn't seem to know enough about the media that he thinks needs to be reformed.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Anna

    Appropriately enough, I read ‘The News: A User’s Manual’ during a weekend of news-avoidance. There has been too much news lately and it stresses me out to constantly confront the apparent collapse of society, the economy, and the environment thanks to Brexit, Trump, and climate change (to name but the three main headings of news I read). I recommend completely avoiding the news at weekends as a relaxation technique. This is probably easier if, like me, you hate smart phones and don’t have a TV. Appropriately enough, I read ‘The News: A User’s Manual’ during a weekend of news-avoidance. There has been too much news lately and it stresses me out to constantly confront the apparent collapse of society, the economy, and the environment thanks to Brexit, Trump, and climate change (to name but the three main headings of news I read). I recommend completely avoiding the news at weekends as a relaxation technique. This is probably easier if, like me, you hate smart phones and don’t have a TV. Anyway, Alain de Botton agrees that the news is hard to deal with and accordingly he has advice. I don’t disagree with his analyses as such, however I find his tone ever-so-slightly patronising. Perhaps because he always sounds so calmly definite, like a textbook. That fits with the description of the book as a manual, of course. However, it jibes with my personal taste for hedging, qualifying statements, and admitting to uncertainty. De Botton sounds so damn comfortably sure about everything! What must that be like? It’s a personal preference, in any event, and did not detract more than marginally from my appreciation of the book. (Notice the hedging there - apparently an introvert characteristic.) De Botton’s manual uses a range of examples, covering most subcategories of news that confronts us daily. Or at least did until a last year, when ‘implosion of US’ and ‘implosion of UK’ came to merit their own subsections. In each case, he invites the reader to consider the story’s deeper meaning, wider context, and how it could be structured or presented more usefully. There are wise and well-expressed comments to be found amongst these short chapters. A couple that especially struck me: Societies become modern, the philosopher Hegel suggested, when news replaces religion as our central source of guidance and our touchstone of authority. In the developed economies, the news now occupies a position of power at least equal to that formerly enjoyed by the faiths. [...] But the news doesn’t just follow a quasi-religious timetable. It also demands that we approach it with some of the same deferential expectations we would once have harboured of the faiths. Here, too, we hope to receive revelations, learn who is good and bad, fathom suffering and understand the unfolding logic of existence. [...] Herein rests an enormous and largely uncomprehended power: the power to assemble the picture that citizens end up having of one another; the power to dictate what our idea of ‘other people’ will be like; the power to invent a nation in our imaginations. This power is so significant because the stories the new deploys end up having a self-determining effect. If we are regularly told that many of our countrymen are crazed and violent, we will be filled with fear and distrust whenever we go outside. If we receive subtle messages that money and status matter above all, we will feel humiliated by ordinary life. If it’s implied that all politicians lie, we’ll quietly put our idealism and innocence aside and mock every one of their plans and pronouncements. And if we’re told that the economy is the most important indicator of fulfilment and that it will be a disaster for a decade at least, we will be unable to face reality with much confidence ever again. One rather delightful thing I learned from this book was Flaubert’s intense antipathy towards the news, which he skewered in a posthumously published 'Dictionary of Received Ideas'. De Botton quotes the following samples: BUDGET Never balanced. CHRISTIANITY Freed the slaves. EXERCISE Prevents all illnesses. To be recommended at all times. PHOTOGRAPHY Will make painting obsolete. He then suggests some additional clichés more suited to a hundred and fifty years later: 3D PRINTING In future, everything will be 3D-printed. Express surprise and awe at the prospect. INTERNET Has made concentration impossible. So hard now to read long novels. MANDARIN Language of the future. I’m not sure that the De Botton approach is sufficiently robust to deal with the current febrile insanity of the news, which gives the relentless impression of constant and unstoppable chaotic collapse. Nor do his generally sensible suggestions for its improvement seem remotely likely to eventuate. At times, I think total avoidance of news is the only way to prevent yourself being overwhelmed. Nonetheless, I found this book a thoughtful and interesting perspective on how we experience news and how it could it made better. The edition I read was also rather beautiful, with visible page stitching and pleasing use of red ink for italics.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Kimee

    (More to come later at www.fictionalskills.com). I'm a huge Alain de Botton fan. I've read 11 of his books. That's why I'm giving this book 3 (really 3.5) stars. De Botton takes the best bits of his previous books and applies them to "The News." The book lacked the original research and observations about the specific, eponymous topic that I love so much in his other work. "The buildings we love reflect qualities we want to see in ourselves," an idea I adore in "The Architecture of Happiness," (More to come later at www.fictionalskills.com). I'm a huge Alain de Botton fan. I've read 11 of his books. That's why I'm giving this book 3 (really 3.5) stars. De Botton takes the best bits of his previous books and applies them to "The News." The book lacked the original research and observations about the specific, eponymous topic that I love so much in his other work. "The buildings we love reflect qualities we want to see in ourselves," an idea I adore in "The Architecture of Happiness," seems sloppily applied to the idea of consumption: "The foods we eat reflect qualities we hope to embody," and is far less appealing, especially when I think of the Trailer Park Torchy's Tacos I eagerly gobbled down yesterday. Alain de Botton would argue that the tacos represent my desire to be more carefree, meticulously thrown together, relaxed, which is probably true, but I'm more willing to indulge intense self-reflection when looking up at buildings than down at my plate. The Philosophers Mail, the book's spin-off project, gets consumption better than the book does. That said, I don't see The Philosopher's Mail implementing some of the ideas I loved most in the book: where is my deep story about a big business; my Dostoevskian murder that sets me at ease with my relatively sane self; a mudslide that humbles me and my wounded ego in the grand scheme of mother nature? Those ideas, and many others, are incredibly helpful. The disaster section calms me as I prepare to board a plane in the wake of MH370 to East Africa (as De Botton does himself in the book; why he goes to Uganda I'm still not sure). He convinces me that if the news learned from the arts, it would be more meaningful. But why is it meaningful now? Why even bother with the BBC and CNN and even The Philosopher's Mail if Tolstoy and Flaubert can teach me everything I need to know? This book is missing a key chapter: "The news is important. It should be more like art, but we can't live on art alone. Here's why."

  15. 4 out of 5

    Vicky

    I was not impressed by The News the same way as by de Bottons’ other titles. His analysis of the news and newspapers is very predictable. Practically many of us are on the same page, but there were no new insights or revelations. Yes, we are surrounded by news that superficial, sensational and very often misleading. Yes, we are addicted to gossips, consumerism and envy from the news. With new technology it is easy to drown in the endless ocean of news. The problem is where to stop, whom to belie I was not impressed by The News the same way as by de Bottons’ other titles. His analysis of the news and newspapers is very predictable. Practically many of us are on the same page, but there were no new insights or revelations. Yes, we are surrounded by news that superficial, sensational and very often misleading. Yes, we are addicted to gossips, consumerism and envy from the news. With new technology it is easy to drown in the endless ocean of news. The problem is where to stop, whom to believe, and not to be affected easily by the information. With so many important events happening around us the news are more powerful than ever, but we have a new power to choose what to digest and where to stop.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Martin Waterhouse

    As always, after finishing one of Alain de Botton's books, you look up with a fresh perspective on something that had seemed sorted and steady in your mind; the world seems to be a slightly brighter and more interesting place. Here he takes on that multi-headed behemoth, the Media, and slowly dissects it and its relationship with us so that we can better understand its motivations and faults. A very good read, well narrated, though the production (the music, and the constant interruptive numbers As always, after finishing one of Alain de Botton's books, you look up with a fresh perspective on something that had seemed sorted and steady in your mind; the world seems to be a slightly brighter and more interesting place. Here he takes on that multi-headed behemoth, the Media, and slowly dissects it and its relationship with us so that we can better understand its motivations and faults. A very good read, well narrated, though the production (the music, and the constant interruptive numbers) was slightly distracting.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Shannon (Giraffe Days)

    Moving from a time and a society in which the news was hoarded by a select few at the top of the social ladder, to the seemingly-sudden abundance of mass-produced newspapers in the mid-19th century, to today's situation in which we are saturated with readily-accessible, constantly updated news 24/7, cannot fail to have its repercussions. And not only because of the constant access, but because of what constitutes 'the news'. Alain de Botton, populist modern philosopher, here scrutinises six diff Moving from a time and a society in which the news was hoarded by a select few at the top of the social ladder, to the seemingly-sudden abundance of mass-produced newspapers in the mid-19th century, to today's situation in which we are saturated with readily-accessible, constantly updated news 24/7, cannot fail to have its repercussions. And not only because of the constant access, but because of what constitutes 'the news'. Alain de Botton, populist modern philosopher, here scrutinises six different sections of the news - Politics, World News, Economics, Celebrity, Disaster and Consumption - delving into its impact on our lives and also offering up a utopian ideal of what the news could look like, if it was developed into a healthier version of itself. He asks the question, why does the news matter, and how can it be made to matter more, in a better way? Journalism has been too modest and too mean in defining its purpose merely as the monitoring of certain kinds of power; a definition that has harmfully restricted its conception of itself and its role in society. It is not just a de facto branch of the police or the tax office; it is, or should be, a government in exile that works through all issues of national life with a view to suggesting ways to build a better country. (p.65) This is an interesting idea, and, it seems to me, one that completely changes how we think of the news today. One thing that de Botton doesn't touch upon, but which my cynical mind can't help but throw up, is trust: while the news and journalists occupy a position of authority and reliability because of what it and they are meant to stand for, the reality is that we just don't trust them, not anymore. Granted, we believe what we read and hear in the news - we're not just well-trained, we're also well-positioned by the techniques journalists and editors use - but they have a long road to walk if they ever wanted to achieve the kind of position in society that de Botton hopes for, without them being accused of propaganda etc. - this because, as de Botton points out, the news and journalists believe in objectivity, which isn't really possible. The self-help element aside (which doesn't sit well with me; I can't help but cringe at anything that slips into that category, as this book did), de Botton raises some pertinent and important points, and makes some interesting connections - and explains a few things. His note, in the preface, that analysing the news should be a core part of children's education stood out to me, a teacher, precisely because - in my state at least - we do teach this, albeit not as a compulsory subject. His observation of why the news is so boring was especially interesting to me: What we colloquially call 'feeling bored' is just the mind, acting out of a self-preserving reflex, ejecting information it has despaired of knowing where to place. We might, for example, struggle to know what to do with information that a group of Chinese officials was paying a visit to Afghanistan to discuss boarder security in the province of Badakhshan or that a left-wing think tank was agitating to reduce levels of tax in the pharmaceutical industry. [...] It is for news organisations to take on some of this librarian's work. It is for them to give us a sense of the larger headings under which minor incidents belong. An item on a case of petty vandalism one Saturday night in a provincial town ('Bus Shelter Graffitied by Young Vandals in Bedford') might come to life if it was viewed as a minuscule moment within a lengthier drama titled 'The Difficulties Faced by Liberal Secular Societies Trying to Instil Moral Behaviour without the Help of Religion'. (p.27) This leads de Botton into an interesting discussion on bias and how important it is, especially acknowledged bias. It reminded me of an article I read last year about bias in news media and how important it is, and how The Australian refuses to acknowledge its own bias (it's clearly right-leaning and conservative, but they deny having any bias at all). At times de Botton engages in proper analysis, but this was scarcer than I would have liked: it's analysis that my brain thrives on, not the waffle about being a better society 'if only' the news could do this or that. We won't make better journalists or news stations until we better understand what we're doing now, and that's where analysis comes in. I wasn't entirely sure what to expect from The News: A User's Manual, because this is my first de Botton book and I didn't know what a philosopher's take on the news media might look like. In some ways, it was engrossing, informative, interesting, enlightening. In other ways, it was maddeningly frustrating because it kept veering off into what the news could be, when I really wanted to focus on what it is now. (That said, without this futuristic, utopian ideal, it could have been too shallow and pointless a book.) It was at its best when it delved into the role of tragedy and why we are riveted by news stories of horrible things (just the other day I sat down and read a heap of articles about the 33 year old father in South Australia who drove his car off a wharf with his two young sons, ages 4 and 10 months, in a murder-suicide. I sat there and cried and cried and cried. But I keep coming back to those articles each day. What's the deal? De Botton explains, and it makes sense); or explaining the behind-the-scenes action (or lack thereof) of a news outlet; or why we don't care about what happens in foreign lands; or the effect consumer goods 'news' has on our psychology. There was much more here to love and appreciate than to whinge about, but the some sections were definitely more powerful than others. In particular, I found the chapter on Economics disappointing - I got much more out of a lead essay in The Monthly last year ("Of Clowns and Treasurers" by Richard Denniss, July 2015). He has some interesting things to say about celebrity news, and why individuals are driven to want to be famous. Contrary to what I would have expected, de Botton doesn't denounce celebrity news, which he views as "a pity", partly because he would prefer "serious people" to anoint celebrities rather than organisations "entirely untroubled by the prospect of appealing to the lowest appetites." (p.159) My instant thought, though, was: but they already do - there are a lot of mass-market-produced 'stars' out there. De Botton's call for intelligent, interesting people who can contribute to our lives in helpful, meaningful and insightful ways is one of the rare times when he sounds naive as well as dismissive, because there are already a wide range of "worthy" individuals. This is one of the times, also, where he slips into self-help mode: "What underlies both the Christian and the Athenian approaches to celebrity is a commitment to the idea of self-improvement, as well as the belief that it is via immersion in the lives of great exemplars that we stand the richest chance of learning how to become better versions of ourselves." (p.163) It's certainly true - it'd be a rare individual who was made 'better' by someone like Kim Kardashian, say - and I love learning about facets to ancient cultures and diverse religions. But he goes on: We should cease to treat the better celebrities like magical apparitions fit only for passive wonder or sneaky curiosity. They are ordinary humans who have achieved extraordinary feats through hard work and strategic thinking. We should treat them as case studies to be pored over and rigorously dissected with a basic question in mind: 'What can I absorb from this person?' The interest that currently latches on to details of celebrities' clothes or diet should be channelled towards a project of growth. In the ideal news service of the future, every celebrity story would at heart be a piece of education: an invitation to learn from an admirable person about how to become a slightly better version of oneself. (p.165) I don't disagree, yet I cringe at the idea of 'dissecting' someone in order to become a better person - maybe it's his language, but I can't help but picture scavengers picking all the meat off the bones of a once-elegant, 'worthy' beast. But then, I've never been interested in celebrity 'news' (comparisons to vultures have already been made) and it's one element of the human psyche I struggle to understand, that obsessive adoration of another. (There's definitely a similarity there between celebrities and religion, which de Botton skirts around with his own comparison.) But I definitely love to learn from others, and there are plenty of 'worthies' in the arts. I don't disagree with de Botton's encouragement to ask, in our own heads, 'what can I learn from this person?' It certainly leads to greater self-reflection and self-awareness, which wouldn't be a bad thing in general. I suppose I am well-taught in the school of scepticism, unfortunately, that I don't see his ideas taking root in modern, mainstream society. It was exactly this 'self-help' element that had me baulking at times, and makes it hard for me to write a coherent review. A mixed bag of a book, but definitely worth reading.

  18. 4 out of 5

    C

    Definitely some of Alain de Botton's weakest work, but an interesting and quick read during this current period of news hysteria.

  19. 4 out of 5

    George

    A fascinating take on the modern news industry, The News: A User's Manual is Alain de Botton's latest success in applying philosophy to every day life in the time in which we now live. Taking inspiration from the term check the news, the aim for the author is to create 'an exercise in trying to make this ubiquitous and familiar habit seem a lot weirder and rather more hazardous than it does at present.' In this, he succeeds, as he covers almost every theme beloved by the mass media, including pol A fascinating take on the modern news industry, The News: A User's Manual is Alain de Botton's latest success in applying philosophy to every day life in the time in which we now live. Taking inspiration from the term check the news, the aim for the author is to create 'an exercise in trying to make this ubiquitous and familiar habit seem a lot weirder and rather more hazardous than it does at present.' In this, he succeeds, as he covers almost every theme beloved by the mass media, including politics and economics, disaster and celebrity, culture and consumption. It's refreshing that a writer of Alain de Botton's clout has essentially taken a central tenet of the unfairly besmirched subject of Media Studies and written a highly accessible work of philosophy on it: Namely, that of being analytical with regards to the media. The author takes on the role of media in developing the way that we view the world, claiming that it is 'constantly at work crafting a new planet in our minds in line with its own often highly distinctive priorities.' He basically asks us, Why do we read the news?, and How?, and the journey that he wants to take you on, as a reader, is well worth it. I think in today's world we are constantly bombarded with information (you are bombarded with this review at the moment, if you happen to be one of the sorry few reading it!) and it's so crucial that us consumers find a sceptical way of reading what is presented to us every day. That way of reading, that technique we should cultivate - academics would call it textual analysis - is incredibly useful and interesting with regards to the news, as the news always seems, or is made to seem, so incredible useful and interesting to us. One piece of criticism that I will add about this book, is that it doesn't nearly cover the role of new media in the modern day. Why, in the age of social media and a Blog For All, there wasn't more of a reflection about where we're headed in terms of information overload, I'm not quite sure. There are short reflections at the end of the book on 'the contemporary news machine', but most of the inspiration for that seems to be from corporation newsrooms, and not from the role of the citizen journalist, or the gossip blogger who gets society talking. But that's a small point, and one that is covered in so many other books. I'm just left wondering what Alain de Botton would think about the blogsphere, and the role of Twitter in the Arab Spring, and the act of a citizen recording a video of the Ukrainian protests on his or her smartphone and instantly putting it online. All in all, The News is a book that I will keep and read again, as even though, I'm sure, it will be criticised by a sizeable chunk of people, it's a great call to thought, and will at least lead me to think more about what I'm actually consuming when I next pick up a newspaper, and why an article on Kim Kardashian's latest outfit can generate more hits on a news website than a piece on a foreign revolution.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Adriano

    Dear Alain, your most recent work is a cut way above that book you wrote about spending time at the airport (LHR?). In fact, I would recommend your latest as highly entertaining material during a monotonous trans-Atlantic flight. Nice assortment of fascinating excerpts, framed by your usual wit and philosophical insights. I agree with what you said recently, "The news takes us to the edge of something deeply interesting – but then abandons us at the process Aristotle calls catharsis -- that expl Dear Alain, your most recent work is a cut way above that book you wrote about spending time at the airport (LHR?). In fact, I would recommend your latest as highly entertaining material during a monotonous trans-Atlantic flight. Nice assortment of fascinating excerpts, framed by your usual wit and philosophical insights. I agree with what you said recently, "The news takes us to the edge of something deeply interesting – but then abandons us at the process Aristotle calls catharsis -- that explains the background anxiety that the news consistently creates." You're an expert on anxiety (five stars for your book Status Anxiety), deconstructing the news from literary and industrial viewpoints, as well as, my recent addiction to personalized Google news. Oui, Flaubert nailed it in Le Dictionnaire des idées reçues. Thanks for shedding light on my psychological impulse to absorb the horrors of the world while contemplating the emptiness left behind by unresolved tragedy, universally due to the cyclical human condition which never ceases to amaze all of us. More news promises to fill that emptiness, but its implicit failure to do so is why news is such a perpetuating mechanism. [In the second edition, please add an epilogue with your analysis as to why Reddit draws so much reader traffic. I suspect it must be because of the photos which are absolutely revelatory (as opposed as merely collaborative) news.] In closing, I should register my disagreement regarding your Hegelian premise that news occupies religion’s former place in society. More precisely, religion has been displaced by the technology which brings us the news among other very distracting things at a hyper-pace, leaving us very little time to reflect on the essence of living a non-virtual (virtuous :-) life. We have come to worship ourselves, smartphones as totems, more than godheads. Tweet back soon from your "Atheism 2.0" church.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Helen

    This book was recommended to me by the Sacramento (CA) Public Library's new Personalized Recommendation System. It was the first book I tried, and I was wonderfully delighted! A. de Botton, with a philosophy background, covers each section of the news: Politics, World News, Celebrity, Disaster, and Consumption. He first offers illustrations of headlines or stories, giving us food for thought. He then proceeds to analyze the reasons these articles are chosen for the news; these are not simply "t This book was recommended to me by the Sacramento (CA) Public Library's new Personalized Recommendation System. It was the first book I tried, and I was wonderfully delighted! A. de Botton, with a philosophy background, covers each section of the news: Politics, World News, Celebrity, Disaster, and Consumption. He first offers illustrations of headlines or stories, giving us food for thought. He then proceeds to analyze the reasons these articles are chosen for the news; these are not simply "to get the ads," as I had previously thought! A. de Botton then goes on to analyze the psychological reasons why each article was chosen, and why it was written in the specific way it was. For example, if a starlet is robbed, many aspects could be emphasized. He may explain that the article is included in order for us to feel more comfortable in our ordinary life roles--after all, if a starlet can be robbed, then we are not so badly off in our dangerous neighborhoods, after all! The analyses are ezquisite! I love his writing style. And each chapter includes the "ideal" section: how the newspaper or tabloid would write the stories if they were in the best interest of the entire public. This gives aspiring journalists a moral/ethical compass to guide them in their training! Excellent book! 5 stars! To be read by all bright teens and adults in society!

  22. 5 out of 5

    Mehrsa

    Absolutely crucial. We do need instructions on how to deal with the news. It is not neutral. Here are two quotes I loved: “Though anger seems a pessimistic response to a situation, it is at root a symptom of hope: the hope that the world can be better than it is. The man who shouts every time he loses his house keys is betraying a beautiful but rash faith in a universe in which keys never go astray. The woman who grows furious every time a politician breaks an election promise reveals a precario Absolutely crucial. We do need instructions on how to deal with the news. It is not neutral. Here are two quotes I loved: “Though anger seems a pessimistic response to a situation, it is at root a symptom of hope: the hope that the world can be better than it is. The man who shouts every time he loses his house keys is betraying a beautiful but rash faith in a universe in which keys never go astray. The woman who grows furious every time a politician breaks an election promise reveals a precariously utopian belief that elections do not involve deceit. The news shouldn’t eliminate angry responses; but it should help us to be angry for the right reasons, to the right degree, for the right length of time – and as part of a constructive project. And whenever this isn’t possible, then the news should help us with mourning the twisted nature of man and reconciling us to the difficulty of being able to imagine perfection while still not managing to secure it – for a range of stupid but nevertheless unbudgeable reasons.” “Applied to the news , having perspective involves an ability to compare an apparently traumatic event in the present with the experiences of humanity across the whole of its history – in order to work out what level of attention and fear it should fairly demand. With perspective in mind, we soon realize that – contrary to what the news suggests – hardly anything is totally novel, few things are truly amazing and very little is absolutely terrible.”

  23. 4 out of 5

    astried

    Dissapointing two stars book. It was just such a simplistic take on the theme. The general theme is, wouldn't it be great if news were not so boring, written like literature, educated the masses on economy, humane in giving celebrity gossip, etc; please add your own idealistic gripe. To which, the only sensible response would be, "well, yes... so?" Everything were discussed fleetingly, even the caution about news being dictated by advertisement, a crucial subject that I've read partially on Noam C Dissapointing two stars book. It was just such a simplistic take on the theme. The general theme is, wouldn't it be great if news were not so boring, written like literature, educated the masses on economy, humane in giving celebrity gossip, etc; please add your own idealistic gripe. To which, the only sensible response would be, "well, yes... so?" Everything were discussed fleetingly, even the caution about news being dictated by advertisement, a crucial subject that I've read partially on Noam Chomsky's book, was only given perfunctory finger wagging text. There's even a stray note on architecture, how it represents the society, just like the news! Only, the example was again ridiculously simplistic. Studying architecture of a harbour should show us all we need to know about its community; neglecting time, style, capital, globalisation. It's better to take that out. Of course not all books should delve deep. There is such thing as introductory book, perhaps this description fits the book better. Though it would be better if introductory book inspires reader to find out more about the subject instead of plunging them into apathetic meh. It would be a whole lot better if it's not so boring to read.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Faye Cheadle

    I always appreciate Alain de Button's take on why we behave the way we do. I don't always agree with him, but I do like that he gets you to think with regards to history and philosophy. He does well picking apart our tendencies towards the news as well as the tendencies of the people that give us the news. His ideas here are intriguing and fresh as always. I do wish there were a bit more practical advice on how to filter the news, but that is a complex problem that perhaps can't be placed on our p I always appreciate Alain de Button's take on why we behave the way we do. I don't always agree with him, but I do like that he gets you to think with regards to history and philosophy. He does well picking apart our tendencies towards the news as well as the tendencies of the people that give us the news. His ideas here are intriguing and fresh as always. I do wish there were a bit more practical advice on how to filter the news, but that is a complex problem that perhaps can't be placed on our philosopher alone. I honestly believe this should be required reading for journalists. The cultural insights in this book are especially important to the people distributing the news; it feels wasted if they're only examined by the ones consuming it.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Jennie

    I'd really like to give this three and a half stars if I could. This book reads like a research paper or essay you might write in school. Tirelessly researched and presented from angles like celebrity and culture, the author has you contemplating how news has changed and want the public deems important. Newspapers and print media have used manipulation for years via language and placement. Social media has made the broadcast of events immediate and the sharing of these events global. Quick read if I'd really like to give this three and a half stars if I could. This book reads like a research paper or essay you might write in school. Tirelessly researched and presented from angles like celebrity and culture, the author has you contemplating how news has changed and want the public deems important. Newspapers and print media have used manipulation for years via language and placement. Social media has made the broadcast of events immediate and the sharing of these events global. Quick read if you have the time. Thought provoking and intelligent. Kudos for the Bowie reference.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Paris Karagounis

    A great book about the chaos of News in the web era;

  27. 5 out of 5

    Jess Dollar

    I don’t follow the news but I often feel guilty about it. I used to watch and listen to the news all the time but now I find that it serves little purpose. In fact, in today’s culture the news is mostly meant to entertain. And I find that kind of entertainment distasteful and counterproductive to gaining wisdom. I am a big fan of the author and he did not disappoint with his insightful explorations of the motives and desires b hind our insatiable appetite for news. We are indeed a species of weak I don’t follow the news but I often feel guilty about it. I used to watch and listen to the news all the time but now I find that it serves little purpose. In fact, in today’s culture the news is mostly meant to entertain. And I find that kind of entertainment distasteful and counterproductive to gaining wisdom. I am a big fan of the author and he did not disappoint with his insightful explorations of the motives and desires b hind our insatiable appetite for news. We are indeed a species of weak, scared, mindless animals and the news we consume speaks to our basic fears and primal motivations.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    3.5 stars. Usually a huge fan of Alain de Botton. Like all of his pieces, this book proved that he is capable of fantastic writing and philosophising. Just felt that this book was overly drawn out. After reading the conclusive chapter, I felt I could have read just that and come out equally as wise, but with a few more hours under my belt!

  29. 5 out of 5

    Julia

    Liked Alain's turn of phrase, like his School of Life videos. Refreshing to read a view from someone outside the industry. But some arguments were trivial, didn't quite hold up. And a lot of what Alain suggested journalism ought to do and achieve is already done in longer-form, photojournalism etc. Nevertheless interesting to analyse the psychological drives behind what we seek in the news, what gratifies or torments us. And important to step back and allow time for independent thought, for intr Liked Alain's turn of phrase, like his School of Life videos. Refreshing to read a view from someone outside the industry. But some arguments were trivial, didn't quite hold up. And a lot of what Alain suggested journalism ought to do and achieve is already done in longer-form, photojournalism etc. Nevertheless interesting to analyse the psychological drives behind what we seek in the news, what gratifies or torments us. And important to step back and allow time for independent thought, for introspection. It was mostly a critique of daily news journalism, the 24 hour news cycle. I'm not sure how we revise and revolutionise the model, quality journalism is very much there - we just don't have time for it.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Joshua Byrd

    It was OK. Would have been better with an overarching narrative or something.

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