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The News: A User's Manual by Alain De Botton

The News: A User's Manual

by Alain De Botton

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291658,788 (3.33)13



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Questa recensione è su: The News: A User's Manual (Formato Kindle)
La vita come notizia, la notizia come vita. Non si sa da dove inizia, non si sa dove finisce. In questo piuttosto confuso libro il suo autore mi conferma quello che scrisse Qoehlet oltre due millenni fa: tutto sembra inutile, anche se accade. Tutto ciò che accade è "notizia" quindi tutto sembra inutile. Ma soltanto perché manca il "senso", altrimenti tutto resta chiaro. Non so se mi spiego...
  AntonioGallo | Nov 2, 2017 |
A fairly shallow examination of news culture pretends to want to reform the news while simultaneously exalting some of the most troubling aspects of it. Quite disappointing.
  Gayle_C._Bull | Mar 29, 2017 |
About the news, but also picks up on the preoccupations of the author's other books (art, travel, etc). This is no bad thing, insights and wisdom require being repeated to us. For the news itself, it discusses our addiction, the distortion, and what it says about our inner longings. As ever with de Botton, it is engagingly and convincingly written. ( )
  rrmmff2000 | Nov 13, 2015 |

This is a high-grade self-help book. If there's an overall thesis, it's this:
'News stories tend to frame issues in such a way as to reduce our will or even capacity to imagine them in profoundly other ways.'

'The news' is discussed in six main categories: politics, world news, economics, celebrity, disaster and consumption. In each category, de Botton discusses the way the news cycle and the currently widespread addiction to it mitigate against thinking. There are plenty of interesting observations and insights, many of them obvious on reflection, though when dealing with addictions there's no harm in stating the bleeding obvious. I had an uneasy feeling that 'I' the reader was being invited to feel superior to the 'we' that de Botton describes as manipulated by the news media. Maybe that's something that comes with the territory of this kind of high-grade self-help book.
  shawjonathan | Jun 5, 2014 |
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. ( )
2 vote nomadreader | Feb 9, 2014 |
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The news is everywhere. We can't stop constantly checking it on our computes, 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, but this has a huge impact on our sense of what matters and of how we should lead our lives. Here, 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? 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.--From publisher description.… (more)

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