How do you read a newspaper?
July 11, 2009 9:45 PM   Subscribe

How do you read a newspaper?

When I read a newspaper, I generally intend to read the entire thing. As a newspaper reader is wont to do, I follow articles to one of the rear pages. Often there is an article on the rear page that catches my eye after I've finished the article I came back for.
Do you typically flip back to the page of origin with plans to read the intriguing article later?
Do you read any interesting articles that might cross your path?

I wonder this for its implications about how newspaper workers decide to put which articles where, as well as its potential crossover to internet reading habits...
posted by andythebean to Grab Bag (23 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I read the comics first, then the editorial page, then the national and international news columns, then the rest of the paper starting with the front page, and finishing with the cryptic crossword. I read articles start to finish then go back to the page I started on. On the weekend, we get a different paper, so I just pull out the sections I want (comics first) and read bits and pieces of them, usually not finishing any as DH likes to read me bits of whatever he's reading. If newspapers didn't have comics, I couldn't bear to read the rest as it's mostly bad news.
posted by x46 at 10:10 PM on July 11, 2009

When I first get a newspaper, I scan the headlines on the front page. If something catches my eye, I read until the page break. If it's engrossing enough, I'll follow it to whatever page it concludes on. After finishing the first article, I'll continue through the section, looking for something that catches my eye (if it started somewhere else, I'll flip back to read the first part). Once I make my way back to page 1, I'll continue through until I get to the page containing the first article I read. (A sample progression would be 1, 6, 7, 8, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5)

Since I do the crossword, I generally start with the entertainment section, then move onto the sports section, the main news section, then the local section. Business is read only if I have nothing else to do.
posted by clorox at 10:16 PM on July 11, 2009

It depends how I am 'reading'. If I'm killing 10 minutes waiting for a train, I flip through until an article catches my attention and start reading. When I hit a "continued on..." I will abandon it and return to flipping until I find something else interesting. I suppose this is 'newspaper surfing.'

But if I'm settling down in a comfy chair or breakfast table to Read The Paper, I start at the beginning and read each story in order, unless it is so painfully boring that I don't care at all. When I reach a "continued on..." I suspend and move on to the next story, mentally stacking that story to finish later. As I hit more and more of these, the stack gets a bit deep, but eventually I reach one of the relevant "continued from" bits and finish that one.

So I suppose in the process of reading the paper, at any given moment I may have a dozen "half-read" stories.

The same applies to magazines for me. Killing 10 mins in a waiting room = surfing. Killing 3 hours on an airplane, I will read an entire magazine as above.

I don't know whether this makes me a freak or not. I've never thought about it before.
posted by rokusan at 10:20 PM on July 11, 2009 [1 favorite]

rokusan, I'm amazed you can keep so many half-read stories... I'd never heard of anyone doing that. Fascinating
posted by andythebean at 10:27 PM on July 11, 2009

I don't know whether this makes me a freak or not. I've never thought about it before.

I don't think this makes you a freak, if it does, I'm a freak as well. My method is exactly the same as yours.

This is the way I read magazines as well.
posted by necessitas at 10:33 PM on July 11, 2009

I'm pretty systematic in my paper reading habits (but then I'm on maternity leave so I have some time to long as I can read essentially one-handed). I read the front section first. In order, page by page, picking up each story continuation as I go (as rokusan said, mentally stacking). Next is Sports. Same deal. Then Business. Then the Life section. Lastly Entertainment, which contains the crossword (which I do religiously every day) and the Kenken (so much better then Sudoku, as it actually involves some math and is therefore way more fun). If I have less time, I do the same thing but I skim.
posted by Go Banana at 10:37 PM on July 11, 2009

I would suggest looking up convention in journalism. Where articles, photographs, and advertising is placed, is pretty much a science. I would put what type of newspaper is being read into consideration. A local daily? A nationally recognized paper like the Washington Post? A business journal that may or may not have changed their format in forever? The technicolor US Today?

Im pretty straightfoward about my newspaper reading. Good, bold picture leads to a chance read. (That is pretty much one of the first rules of journalism) Knowing that the story will be there will lead to my reading all of the article; which also holds true for certain sections like the metro/local government section.

And while the advertising is much of the point, I ignore them, much like how I traffic the internet.
posted by captainsohler at 10:54 PM on July 11, 2009

I read a newspaper much like rokusan - mentally stacking stories until I get to that particular jump page. I skip sports and business, unless there is a particularly interesting design on the business page, which I then skim and nod appreciatively (having designed many a business page in my day, I always like to give a thumbs up to the poor person who had to lay out the stocks page). I generally read front page, local news, life/entertainment.

On a tabloid paper, I read front to back - no skipping around (except for sports).

I actually design newspapers for a living - the case for jumps varies from newspaper to newspaper. Some editors prefer not to have jumps, keeping their stories on one page (this is generally mostly done in tabloids, though there are some broadsheet papers out there who practice this on their inside pages). However, tabloids are pretty small, and when you have a ginormous story, you often have no choice but to jump it to another page if you want to put any sort of art along with it. As well, two to three stories on a page jumping to another page looks far better from a design standpoint than just one giant story on a page, so most of the time, we prefer to cram as much stuff as possible onto a section front. Another reason for jumps that is not mentioned as often is advertisements - a lot of newspapers don't have advertisements on a section front and hope that by jumping to an inside page, more eyes will land on the inside advertisements. And now I will stop talking, but if you would like to know more about my crumbling industry, please feel free to memail me.
posted by kerning at 11:02 PM on July 11, 2009 [2 favorites]

captainsohler: "much like how I traffic the internet."

This pretty much sums up how I read the paper. I grew up when the web was first coming about, but I've also been a newspaper reader since I was about 10 or so (mid 90s). With both, I'll read the main pages, and then mentally note articles I'm interested. The mental part is more with newspapers (remembering that I'd started that article and then finding the rest later, in order of interest with the other articles on the page). Online, I'll read the main page, open tabs to the stories of interest, and then from there on it's anything goes. Whether it's the internet or the newspaper, I'll start with what I assume is the most interesting story, but then I may jump around, reading several stories before finally finishing the first (or whichever story I deem most important overall, which often changes from the one I started with).
posted by fishmasta at 11:11 PM on July 11, 2009

-I read the front section first, without stacking - I go back and forth to read each article in its entirety.
-Then I will read the "News & World" section. In our terrible semi-local paper, world news takes a backseat to whatever farm boy has raised a cow on his own or taught his Swedish grandmother to read English in some dreadfully poor South Dakota hamlet which is pulling itself out of its economic plight by having a baked goods & quilt sale.
-This is followed by Sports (strictly tennis articles and scores).
-I skip Business (unless something terribly interesting has happened).
-I then finish up with Life/Entertainment. This also mainly covers stories of the "boy and his grandmother" ilk, though these are more along the lines of "Look how these moms have formed a weekly club to teach their two-year-olds Hungarian whilst exercising to the newest club hits! Also, rompers are BACK IN STYLE!" Ugh. Still, I read every word of it.
posted by punchdrunkhistory at 11:14 PM on July 11, 2009 [1 favorite]

My local newspaper is a Pleasantville-esque propaganda rag (e.g. "Yay, aren't we a wonderful town, we have no seedy underbelly, none at all, and don't you worry your empty little heads about any national or international news, we only want you to read about sports and fairs and uplifting community gatherings!) so my reading pattern with it is kind of hit-and-miss, but when I read a real newspaper I start with the front page and read it all the way through, in order (even if I skip ahead to finish an article, I go back to where I was before).
posted by amyms at 12:20 AM on July 12, 2009

I dig around for something interesting (I don't get a newspaper delivered, the Internet is faster, more recent, and less wasteful. So usually I'm sitting in a wating room or reading one I stole because I knew I was going to be bored for a while. Once I find something interesting I read it until I hit the continued on. I then decide if the article was good enough to finish or I go back to looking for something else interesting. Usually I do decide to go finish it. The problem is that it's a pain in the fucking ass to dig in and get to the continuation. Newspapers suck, really.
posted by floam at 12:21 AM on July 12, 2009

I don't usually read the news articles. It's a toss up whether I read the obits or editorials first, and then maybe the comics. I usually don't encounter too many of the jumps in these sections.
posted by at 12:47 AM on July 12, 2009

I read each section, sports excluded, front to back. If a story catches my interest and has a jump, I keep what I've read in mind until I find the conclusion later in the section.

The only papers I read regularly are The New York Times and USA Today. In the Times, almost every story interests me. While things would be more coherent if I followed jumps right away, flipping through a single section ten times is infuriating, especially when things start getting bunched up when I don't get the folds 100% right. As for USA Today, nothing jumps more than one page turn away, if at all, so that's never a problem.
posted by punishinglemur at 1:03 AM on July 12, 2009

I start by flipping though the paper looking out for potentially interesting stories, or ones which I feel i ought to read. Then slowly work my way through them starting at the front. I never start a new article until I've finished with the other.

Berliner format papers are easier to do this with than standard broadsheets i guess.
posted by ashaw at 1:46 AM on July 12, 2009

Like rokusan and kerning above I read from front to back, finishing stories as I get to the page where they're continued. Reading the newspaper is a lifelong daily routine, usually two different papers. I just scan reports that don't interest me but read the entirety of those that do. I think that my average still holds at around a hundred pages of printed material a day. More than half are read completely and the remainder is scanned for tidbits.
posted by X4ster at 2:36 AM on July 12, 2009

Like so.
posted by turgid dahlia at 2:40 AM on July 12, 2009

I immediately recycle 60-70% of the bulk of it (in ads and sections I care nothing about: sports, real estate, classifieds) and skim around for interesting-looking articles. I read them more or less in serial.
posted by Emperor SnooKloze at 5:23 AM on July 12, 2009

I think this totally depends upon the newspaper.

I read two a day, Financial Times (FT) and The Daily Mail. Each is approached differently.

I scan the cover of the FT but, to be brutally honest, nothing there should be news to anyone working in the field (I'm in banking); maybe four or five times a year I'll be surprised by something on the cover however this is increasingly rare. We've (Mrs Mutant is in banking as well) always got Bloomberg TV on at home, and we're both online more than we're off so we've got a good idea of what's going on in our field before the morning papers arrive.

So after I've scanned the cover of The FT its straight to the editorial pages as much of this content doesn't make it online, then I hop onto the second section. Lots of this is indeed news (who is doing what deal, etc, etc, again lots doesn't find its way online) so that's fine. Then its back to the first section for a page by page perusal, generally taking in every title and the first sentence or two, scanning upper left to lower right, just to see whats happening in other areas of the business (finance is a remarkably broad field).

Now the Daily Mail is a rather tawdry rag, and I read it only in the hope of coming across some salacious gossip. So that's a real lightweight, and we go front cover straight through to the Entertainment Section when I stop 'cause nothing good follows (i.e., the business section is a lightweight compared to FT, and I don't do no sports except for the markets).

I realise what reading Daily Mail says but please realise that Mrs Mutant won't let me read my newspaper of choise as Page 3 reportedly has photos she personally does not approve of and she won't take my word that I would never look, even if I cross my heart. Now this does indeed suck, but thems the rules.
posted by Mutant at 5:25 AM on July 12, 2009

First, I separate the newspaper into two piles--one contains the news, local and culture sections (maybe sports or business, too, depending on whether anything's going on in those fields that I'm interested in), and the other contains advertisements, wire-service lifestyle copy, paid advertorial content, etc. This second pile goes into the recycle bin (or, if I'm at work, I put the coupons and sales fliers out with the free alternative weeklies, put the classifieds behind the desk and reunite the remaining sections).

The first pile pretty much gets read from front to back--if I follow a jump, I'll generally go back to where I started.
posted by box at 8:18 AM on July 12, 2009

It has since changed format, but I used to always read the back page of the Detroit Free Press first, then the comics (which were the two pages before the back page). Next I'd read the section they called "The Way We Live," which was formerly "For and About Women." Then I'd go to the front section and read from the front page on through to the end. Second section came next, it usually included all the op-ed columns. Last was the Classifieds, although I usually only read the death notices, obituaries, personals and the help wanted (even when I wasn't job searching). The only section I never read was sports.
posted by Oriole Adams at 9:50 AM on July 12, 2009

I generally don't read the second half of articles that have jumps in them. It annoys the frak out of me when newspapers/magazines put jumps in their articles, and I've given up reading several publications that use them too frequently. I read anything that catches my eye, front to back, skipping the second half of any article that interrupts itself.

(I'm sure I miss a lot, but it definitely makes me grateful for journalists who still know how to use the inverted pyramid well.)
posted by decathecting at 11:55 AM on July 12, 2009

I read through each section from front to back, going through each supplement front to back. Basically, sequentially. But British papers don't tend to redirect you to other pages very often - certainly not The Times. I then read all of the supplements. I don't actually read all of the content, more scan until I find something I like, but I do do all of the pages sequentially.
posted by wackybrit at 5:25 PM on July 12, 2009

« Older Favorite racing games?   |   Digestive flora for fauna with poor digestion Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.