Pacific Media Centre Pacific Media Watch Pacific Journalism Review Pacific Scoop

Noted: Why so much grimness and so little hope?

Volume 20, Issue 1

May, 2014

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Oosterman, A. (2014). Why so much grimness and so little hope? Pacific Journalism Review, 20(1): 263-264. Review of The News: A User’s Manual, by Alain de Botton, London: Hamish Hamilton, 2014, 267pp., ISBN9780241146477.
Author(s): Allison Oosterman
Reviewed book by Alain de Botton
Publication date: 
May, 2014

The News:
Sociologists, ethnographers, political scientists have all focussed their critical faculties on journalism and the news, so it is not surprising, perhaps, that a philosopher might do the same. And with what relish does Alain de Botton aim his powerful intellect upon the news, freshly honed on such discrete topics as love, travel, happiness, religion, architecture and sex. In the developed world, he says, the news now occupies position of power at least equal to that formerly enjoyed by religion. However, the news does not merely report on the world, it is ‘constantly at work crafting a new planet in our minds in line with its own often highly distinctive priorities’. De Botton uses examples of headlines to illustrate the news’ focus on disaster and mayhem and asks, plaintively, why? ‘Why so much grimness and so little hope?’