The News Book Summary - The News Book explained in key points
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The News summary

A User’s Manual

3.8 (35 ratings)
16 mins

Brief summary

"The News" by Alain De Botton explores the impact of news on our lives. It argues that the modern media is designed to grab our attention and offers suggestions on how to use news productively without being overwhelmed by it.

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    The News
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    Key idea 1 of 7

    Political news headlines don’t engage readers because they fail to provide context.

    Does this sound familiar? You bring home a newspaper with every intention of reading it from front to back, yet you barely make it through a couple of articles before it ends up in the recycling bin. Well, don’t worry – you’re definitely not alone.

    Many readers today feel disengaged with the news, especially when confronted with headlines on political issues that seem obscure and complex.

    Take this BBC headline from 2013: “Tenant’s rent arrears had risen during a pilot benefit scheme.”

    If you made it past this headline, you would have discovered that the government began paying housing benefits directly to tenants instead of landlords, and that the tenants ended up spending these benefits elsewhere, and, in the end, actually had more trouble paying their rent: an interesting story.

    But the headline makes it sound very dull, and what’s even more troubling is that the small article that follows doesn’t even try to explain the issue by putting it into the context of social reform.

    To be engaging and digestible, serious issues need to be presented in a broader context. If only presented with a fragment of a complex subject, readers will simply not understand or be uninterested.

    It’s like asking someone to read a paragraph from a masterpiece of fiction without any context and then expecting them to understand why the passage is great.

    For example, at one point in the novel Anna Karenina, there’s a description of a man sitting in the waiting room of a lawyer’s office. On its own, the description is meaningless. The beauty and emotional pull are only understandable if you know that the man is waiting to see his lawyer because he wants to divorce his wife, who has fallen in love with someone else. And that, if the divorce is granted, his wife will be shunned and completely ostracized from Russian society.

    The news could take a tip from novels. Only by contextualizing and framing their stories, and thereby communicating what’s at stake and showing how the story fits into the grand scheme of things, will news outlets engage and inform readers.

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    What is The News about?

    The News (2014) reads between the lines of the constant stream of today’s news – news to which many readers are becoming increasingly indifferent. This indifference isn’t so much the reader’s fault as the media’s. Constant competition in a crowded market results in news outlets failing to package stories in a way that’s appealing, engaging and, most of all, informative.

    The News Review

    The News (2014) by Alain De Botton sheds light on the role of news in our lives and why we should rethink our relationship with it. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • It offers a fresh perspective on the news, questioning its impact on our well-being and suggesting alternative ways to consume it.
    • Combining philosophical insights, cultural analysis, and personal observations, the book presents a thoughtful examination of the news and its effects on society.
    • With its witty and thought-provoking style, the book ensures that readers are engaged, giving them a deeper understanding of the news without feeling overwhelmed or bored.

    Best quote from The News

    We cant expect the average news story to be written up with Shakespearean skill, but we might insist that it pay attention to universals.

    —Alain De Botton
    example alt text

    Who should read The News?

    • News readers who want to make better choices about what to read
    • Skeptics who think mainstream news is worthless
    • Journalists who want to write better articles

    About the Author

    Alain de Botton is a popular essayist who specializes in human culture, including love, religion, architecture and travel. In 2008, de Botton founded The School of Life, which focuses on exploring new avenues of education. His other books include Status Anxiety, Religion for Atheists and The Art of Travel.

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    The News FAQs 

    What is the main message of The News?

    The main message of The News is to critically examine our consumption of news and its impact on our well-being and society.

    How long does it take to read The News?

    The estimated reading time for The News varies, but it typically takes a few hours. The Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is The News a good book? Is it worth reading?

    The News is worth reading as it provides valuable insights into the world of news consumption and its effects. It offers a fresh perspective and prompts critical thinking.

    Who is the author of The News?

    The author of The News is Alain De Botton.

    What to read after The News?

    If you're wondering what to read next after The News, here are some recommendations we suggest:
    • The Order of Things by Michel Foucault
    • The Art of Travel by Alain De Botton
    • Brief Answers to the Big Questions by Stephen Hawking
    • Stop Reading the News by Rolf Dobelli
    • First as Tragedy, Then as Farce by Slavoj Žižek
    • Hagakure by Yamamoto Tsunetomo & Alexander Bennett
    • Dopamine Detox by Thibaut Meurisse
    • In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts by Gabor Maté
    • How to Talk to Anyone by Leil Lowndes
    • Status Anxiety by Alain de Botton