How to Read Newspaper Articles

Professors and teachers often require students to become familiar with reading a newspaper. Courses in political science may require reading about current events, and other classes may include reading newspapers on specific subjects; a wide variety of newspapers focus on specific topics, regions or viewpoints. You can use your newspaper reading skills to improve a research paper or to enhance your overall reading experience.

The Steps

Determine the focus of the newspaper you've chosen. Is it a local or national newspaper? Does it have a specific focus on an issues or topic like sports? Write down your initial observations in your notebook.

Scan the headings throughout the newspaper. You will find various elements in a newspaper, including articles, feature stories, editorials, cartoons and specific sections. Articles are typically considered news; feature stories are longer, more detailed stories about a specific topic or idea. Editorials and cartoons are opinions. Select a news article that interests you, and write down your observations.

Read the article, and determine the topic. What are the elements that make the topic newsworthy? Write your answer and thoughts down.

Look at the byline to find the author of the article. Usually, a byline will specify if the writer is a staff writer or from a syndicated service like the Associated Press. What information do you know about the author? Is there a "slant" to the article that shows bias over one viewpoint or another? Are both sides of the story being told? Write your observations down in your notebook.

Determine if the information can be verified. What sources are used by the reporter? What are the job titles of those sources, and are they associated with an organization or company? How does the source affect the slant of the article?

Analyze whether or not the article communicates values, ethics or ideas that may not be obvious at first.

Continue to read and analyze the rest of the newspaper using this method. Figure out if other articles and feature stories are written in a similar format within the newspaper. Analyze the editorial columns, and determine if only a few or a broad range of ideas are being conveyed.

Things You'll Need

  • Newspaper
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