How I Read the Newspaper

In fifth grade, at Cedar Hill Elementary school, I was taught how to read a newspaper. We were taught how to identify the lead story, what it meant when a story was “above the fold.” I even recall learning how to read the stock market pages in our math class. I don’t know if they still teach students how to read a newspaper, especially with so many papers succumbing to the Internet. How I read a newspaper has evolved in the three decades since that fifth grade class. Here is how I read a newspaper today

Washington Post

1. I start with the obituaries, which, in the Washington Post, appear in the Metro section. People are always being reported as dead online. I prefer to get news of a death from a more reliable source.

2. I skim the Metro section, reading the digest and skimming the rest, unless something catches my eye.

3. I skim the Style section for entertainment news. I skim all of the shows and movies that I never watch or see. While some of the plots sound interested, they just aren’t interesting enough to get me to the theater.

4. I skim the Sports section. In baseball season, I read all of the box scores. In football season, I look for baseball transactions. If it’s football season and I know I’m going to be meeting someone who follows football, I’ll read through the football news so that I can at least hold my own in the conversation. I like Tom Boswell, but I’ve got to say that the Los Angeles Times covers baseball much better than the Washington Post.

5. I skim the front page section. I probably only read 2-3 full articles on any given day, but I glance at all of the headlines.

It takes me between 20-30 minutes to get through the paper each morning this way.

When I travel, I try to read the local papers. I particularly enjoy this when I’m in a small town. Small town papers are the best. I still maintain the same basic process for going through the paper, but I delight in the insular reporting of small town papers. Especially the crime reports.

Now, some folks may be wondering why I read the news paper when I can get the same articles online. After all, I am the paperless guy, right? The answer is that I read on screens all day, and reading the newspaper is my one way of starting the day without looking at a screen. My eyes thank me for it.

I’ve always wanted to be one of those people who do the daily crossword in pen. Unfortunately, I have no time for the daily crossword, and even if I did, I generally don’t read the articles closely enough to be able to finish one puzzle before the next one comes out.