How many words on the front page?
May 20, 2005 9:33 PM   Subscribe

I've heard many times that if you read the front page of the newspaper, you would have gone through more words than if you listened to a half hour TV broadcast news show. With this in mind, I am wondering: how many words are there, on average on the front page of a newspaper? What about inside? Does the format (broadsheet vs. tabloid) make a difference? If yes, how many words for each?
posted by TNLNYC to Grab Bag (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Dear Lord, why don't you buy a few newspapers and tell us?
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 11:12 PM on May 20, 2005

I'd think a tabloid front page would have *at most* roughly half the words, seeing as it's about half the size. Even less for say, the NY Post.
posted by pmurray63 at 11:13 PM on May 20, 2005

I'm only doing this (for today's New York Times) because I'm procrastinating and because I'm kind of curious too.

In Rare Threat, Bush Vows Veto of Stem Cell Bill - 1205 words

Guantánamo Comes to Define U.S. to Muslims - 1590 words

A Love Affair With S.U.V.'s Begins to Cool - 1119 words

Zimbabwe, Long Destitute, Teeters Toward Ruin - 1555 words

A Place for Grandparents Who Are Parents Again - 1183 words

A City Opera Conductor Joins Business Connections to Talent - 1119 words

F.D.A. Considers Implant Device for Depression - 1640 words

Google This: Is Microsoft Still a Bully? - 1439 words

Plan Would Let F.B.I. Track Mail in Terrorism Inquiries - 846 words

Hussein Photos in Tabloids Prompt U.S. Call to Investigate - 1268 words

Total = 12,964 words, or about 45 doublespaced pages in 12 point font.

Of course, this is assuming you read the entire article, not just the portion on the front page.
posted by Saucy Intruder at 11:55 PM on May 20, 2005

Kind of indirectly related to your question: It would take 29 hours to read a daily edition of the Washington Post aloud. (I just read that yesterday, so it's fresh in my mind)
posted by curtm at 8:39 AM on May 21, 2005

At most newspapers, there are about 30 words for each column-inch of type, though this varies greatly with font and type-size, as well as column width. If I recall correctly, a page of broadsheet is 21 inches tall. Most papers have five or six columns per page, though modern paper designers tend to mess around this this figure. The number of words on a page will also vary greatly depending on the size and number of graphics.

If you assume a four inch deep banner at the top of the six-column, 21-inch tall front page and nothing else but text, you've got roughly 3,000 words on the front page. That's a lot higher than you'll actually find in most papers, though.

My local paper today, for example, has large headlines and photos that probably take up a quarter of the space below the headline. Without actually counting the words, my formula would lead me to estimate there are about 2,250 words on the front page.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 10:03 AM on May 21, 2005

Meanwhile, in a half hour of TV news, we start with 22 minutes of broadcast, in which anchors speak at 150 to 200 words per minute. We'll go with 160 to allow for silences. This may be high, considering the slow speed of interviewees and of anchors aiming for viewer comprehension. Can someone help me hone this estimate?

In any case, 160wpm x 22m = 3520 words per show -- about 1.5 times the 2250 words on crouton's front page.

With pauses and a slower estimate, I'd guess my figure will drop to under 3000, bringing the front page and half-hour news to the same level.

Remember that learning comprehension involves not just audio but visual input, something lacking in sparsely illustrated newspapers. Major newspapers could take advantage of the Internet's roominess and publish more multimedia, giving them a double advantage over TV outlets.
posted by NickDouglas at 12:08 PM on May 21, 2005

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