's 'The Truth', the 25th book of the Discworld
series of novels, was first published in 2000. The story and general information about the book has already been described in the above node
. This node is an attempt to explain the book on a deeper
level, that is, as a criticism
of the media
and a look into the nature of truth
itself. The storyline proved the perfect vessel with which to do this, out of all the Discworld novels this is probably the one which stands out as having an important message while also being an enjoyable read. You can read through the novel once and you probably wouldn't notice how much of a scathing commentary
it is on the media, and how critical it is of the nature of human beings
"People like to be told what they already know. Remember that. They get uncomfortable when you tell them new things. New things … well, new things aren’t what they expect. They like to know that, say, a dog will bite a man. That is what dogs do. They don’t want to know that a man bites a dog, because the world is not supposed to happen like that. In short, what people think they want is news, but what they really crave is olds."
The novel is extremely critical of the manner in which people are blinded by their own beliefs and prejudices that they will believe anything that supports them regardless of any facts and evidence to the contrary. Many people have strong enough opinions on an array of topics that if anyone tries to point out to them that their opinions are based on falsehoods, they will reject it simply because it does not fit in with their current beliefs.
"'A woman in Kicklebury Street says her husband has been kidnapped by elves,’ said Mr Mackleduff, holding up the Inquirer. The heading was very clear on the subject:
ELVES STOLE MY HUSBAND!
‘That’s made up!’ said William.
‘Can’t be,’ said Mackleduff. ‘There’s the lady’s name and address, right there. They wouldn’t put that in the paper if they were telling lies would they?’"
The story is based around two newspapers, each one with different aims. One of them is dedicated towards trying to report to the people the truth and matters of importance. The other is concerned with making money with stories and headlines which attract readers, regardless of the stories' basis in truth. The two newspapers compete for readership, yet the latter sells better because it tells the people what they want to hear rather than what they should want to know.
"'Man Stolen by Demons', he said. ‘This refers to Mr Ronnie “Trust Me” Begholder, known to owe Chrysoprase the troll more than two thousand dollars, last seen buying a very fast horse?’
‘Where do the demons fit in?’
‘Well he could’ve been stolen by demons,’ said Dibbler. ‘It could happen to anybody’
‘What you mean then is that there is no evidence that he wasn’t stolen by demons?’
‘That way people can make up their own minds,’ said Dibbler."
The book concerns how the media chooses to portray events and situations, manipulating the evidence or choosing to exclude parts of it to alter the understanding that the audience has of these events. It criticizes the media for the representations that they make of the truth, but it is far more critical to us, the media’s audience, for unquestioningly believing those representations. It is a message that we shouldn't take things at face value, that we should always question what we see and hear, regardless of whom it is who is doing the telling.
All excerpts from novel 'The Truth' by Terry Pratchett. Published by Doubleday in 2000.