Today, the news occupies the same dominant position in our lives as religion once did. But rarely do we consider how it touches us. Here, Alain de Botton examines a number of archetypal news stories - a plane crash, a murder, a political scandal, a celebrity interview - from a fresh perspective to ask intriguing questions: why do disaster stories titillate? why obsess over love lives of the famous? why smile when a politician falls from grace? In so doing, he brings clear sight and understanding to a force which, above all others, informs our view of reality.