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Subject needs a great book - this wasn't it
on 14 February 2015
For a while I've been feeling disillusioned with the news, even formerly reliable sources like The BBC. It seems increasingly to be a noxious brew of empty political rhetoric, tacky infotainment, disaster porn and sexual hysteria. So I was looking forward to this book, which promised an analysis of the news and its discontents, with a prescription for their remedy. How disappointing then to find rather shallow observations that any bright A-level student could have made, a style that meandered about without seeming to have a destination, and conclusions that seemed to amount to "don't take too much news" and "concentrate on good news stories". Not the hard-hitting, thought-provoking epistemological examination of the place of news media in our society desired by somebody who wants to be reliably informed about what goes on in the world without being overwhelmed. I find Alain de Botton a mixed blessing; he popularises the idea that philosophical thinking can be applied to everyday life, but he doesn't apply it particularly well, or thoroughly. There's a great book to be written about this subject, but I'm afraid this wasn't it.