Apr 16, 2007

UPSC: How to read Newspapers

HOW TO READ A NEWSPAPER?
Introduction: The current Affairs are an important and interesting part in every one’s life. Starting from Gossiping about Film Industry to latest Political development, every one has some interest in it. Newspapers fulfills the basic requirement of the above needs.Starting from ordinary clerical examination to the to the top most Competitive exams like Civil Services, there are questions on Current Affairs. Normal Current Affairs questions are on PERSONALITIES, PLACES AND NEWS ANALYSIS. One has to follow at least one newspaper to keep abreast of National and International developments. But most of the students don’t know, how to read a newspaper or Read and memorize for their exams. The following write up gives an idea to follow the same for better understanding of Newspapers, which will further improve student’s approach towards newspaper reading.
“ALL THE BEST”
Newspaper reading is an art in itself. It is always advisable to get hooked on to newspaper reading very early in the school days. Before familiarizing yourself with reading a newspaper, it is advisable to get acquainted with the broad contours and some technical terms related to the newspaper.Front page: As the name indicates, is the first, or the front page of the newspaper. The top left hand and the right hand corners on the front page are known as the ‘Ear Panels’. The ‘Ear Panels’ contain advertisements in small boxes. The name of the newspaper, along with the date, place of publication and the ear panels are known as the ‘Masthead’.Lead Story: The lead story of the newspaper is the main, first, or the most prominent story on the front page. It is given in bold letters with big fonts and is the most important story of the day. ‘Banner headline’ - Often in the case of a major natural disaster, or death of a head of State or Government, a ‘banner headline’ is given. Banner headline means a headline spread across the top of the front page.Columns – Every newspaper and every page of a newspaper has eight columns – from left to right. That is, the first column on the left and the eight column on the right.Pages – The number of pages in a newspaper varies from one to another. Leading dailies have between 16-24 pages on weekdays and 32-48 pages on weekends.Supplements – Supplements are also known as magazines. These are separate from the main newspaper. Each day, newspapers have supplements, or magazines. These supplements cover special issues such as fashion, health, cuisine and other material for light reading over the weekend.Layout of the newspaper – This again varies from newspaper to newspaper. But in a standard format, the first page of the newspaper is known as Front page. A front page normally has five-six prominent news stories on issues of national and international importance. Pages second to fourth page are normally reserved for local news stories, though it depends upon each newspaper. If the newspaper is published from Delhi, the local pages would have news reports about Delhi (or any other city) if a newspaper is published from that city. Pages fifth to seventh contain news from various States. Pages eight and nine, are normally the most important pages of the newspaper. These two pages combined form the ‘heart and soul’ of the newspaper and are together known as ‘Centrespread’. These contain, most importantly, editorials (usually two in number), two edit page articles and Letters to the Editor. The page on the left is the ‘Editorial page’ and the one on the right is now known as the ‘Op-ed’ (Opinion-cum-editorial pages) and contains columns written by well-known commentators, analysts, opinion-makers and experts on a particular issue. The editorial page conveys the broad policy of the newspaper management – i.e whether the newspaper is pro-government, anti-government or neutral in the coverage of the news and views that it carries.Pages 10 and 11 are often reserved for international news. The next three-four pages are for news related to Business, stock market and share prices. After these, three-four pages are dedicated to coverage of various national and international sporting events. The last page is often kept for important national and international human-interest stories, that is, stories that would interest any reader. HOW TO READ A NEWSPAPER: Readers and reading are of two broad types: skimming (scanning) and reading. There are different styles of reading for different situations. The technique of reading depends on the purpose of reading. So first of all, you should have the purpose of reading very clear in your mind. For example, one might be reading for enjoyment, information, or to finish a task. If you are researching or reviewing, you might skim through a document. Reading speed depends on the purpose of reading. Skimming is usually done four-five times faster than normal reading. Many people consider skimming and scanning to be search techniques, rather than reading strategies. Skimming is usually resorted for quick identification of the main contents of any given material. Some people read the first and last paragraphs using headlines, sub-headings, summaries, searching for keywords. But while scanning, it is advisable to read the first sentence, for it gives a fair and a broad idea of the contents of that paragraph. Newspaper reading can be easily compared to long-distance running. You should start jogging in the beginning, let the muscles warm up and accelerate a little bit at the halfway mark and sprint only at the last lap of the race. It is thus, strongly advised that if you are a beginner at serious reading of a newspaper, do not skim, or scan to start with. Skimming requires trained movement of eyes from one word, sentence, or paragraph to another. This will come with sustained practice and one must increase the speed of reading gradually. Reading requires careful attention to every word and detail. However, anyone can increase the speed of reading while maintaining equal, or even higher comprehension. If you subscribe to a particular newspaper, slow reading in the beginning is a must to train the eyes for the type and size of the font. There are three factors which can help in enhancing reading speed: (1) willingness to improve, (2) keenness to try out new techniques and (3) motivation levels to practice reading regularly. With practice – and gradually, try to develop a wider and broader eye-span. This will help in reading more words and later on, even sentences, at one glance. Try to increase the eye-span from one sentence to two, then to three, four and then the whole paragraph. For, even physiologically, the movement of the eye is amongst the fastest movements of our body. Hence, it is of utmost importance to control eye movement while reading, for eyes have a peculiar habit of not being fixed at one place and the gaze just keeps shifting to see and visualize more and more.One major difficulty in reading, or even scanning, is that the eyesight, if not trained, has the habit of jumping and skipping words that are difficult to read, or not familiar to the eye. This leads to problems in reading and retention. Often one may misread, or misunderstand a word while reading fast. Thus it is all the more important to read slowly and at a comfortable pace and increase the speed only when the eyesight is properly trained. Certain write-ups like editorials, main stories of the day have to be read carefully. Skimming can be practiced in cases where one is reading for leisure on a weekend, or vacation and perfect it before applying to daily reading. One can of course, formulate own reading techniques for speed-reading with practice.Therefore, start reading by applying these techniques, for being a prospective mass communicator, you will be required to read/scan tonnes of material. However, one major must for reading is that you must not take it as a burden and have to enjoy the entire process. For, as they say – “Bon Chance” (Wish you all the best). CIVIL SERVICES PREPARATION: Civil Services preparation point of view is important in this place, when an aspirant reads a newspaper. If one goes through the previous years questions of Current Affairs, it will give broad idea about the pattern. Normally asked questions are about Personalities, Places, News of National and International importance. Bilateral issues relating to India and other Nations, Visit of Head of the States of other Countries, Visit of Indian President and Prime Minister to other Countries, Important agreements etc. One should concentrate on above items and avoid every day politics, gossip news, crime reports, unimportant corporate news, local issues etc. One should concentrate on the first page for Latest development, Edit page for Editorial and analysis, ‘Op-ed’ (Opinion-cum-editorial pages) for the views of commentators, analysts, opinion-makers on a particular issue.

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