Media: A Moment with Marquis

Apart from the killer waves, the Indian Ocean earthquake also triggered a tsunami of news.

The volume of coverage has been in the same league as that following the death of Princess Diana and it has been hard not to be swept along with the misery and desperation of it all. But the pictures, as several commentators admitted, have been grimly fascinating. Those monster waves, caught on holiday-makers' camcorders, were more mesmerising when you knew what was to follow. TV brought the reality of the tsunami to the world and in doing so accelerated the raising of private and public aid. Could any other medium have achieved such a result?

According to a study by Nottingham Trent University, TV's pre-eminence in relaying terrible news comes at a price: it makes us depressed, confused, irritated, anxious and angry. Dr Attila Szabo questioned 170 students about how they felt having watched a lunchtime TV bulletin full of items such as a threatened firemen's strike and Moscow mourning hundreds of deaths in a Chechen atrocity. You might think most students are depressed, confused, irritated, anxious and angry most of the time, but then not many of us would say they find TV news uplifting or mood-enhancing.

This revelation came to me courtesy of Jolyon Connell, writing in The Week. Faced with TV news, he confesses to feelings akin to the students' but has a less severe reaction to reading about the world's calamities in the newspapers.

Connell is the founder of The Week - an excellent and painless way to stay in touch. The Week is a media oddball, its mere 40 pages proving that less really is more.

Encompassing books, leisure, travel, property, obituaries, food and drink, theatre, letters, comment and news, there are no gaps in The Week's coverage.

It's just highly concentrated.

Little in The Week is original, in the sense that its content is harvested from the rest of the media, but its great strength is its editing. It would be easy to do The Week badly; doing it well shows how consummate is its compilation.

I can't quite agree with the magazine's strapline "All you need to know about everything", but it is refreshingly understated and admirably to the point. Even the dreadful tsunami, main story as it had to be, merited only a single spread, thus demonstrating nicely that you can have too much of a bad thing and that life must go on for us as it must for the beleaguered on the shores of the Indian Ocean.