UPSC EXAM INDIA : Tips : 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. “ALL THE BEST”
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.
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
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
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
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.