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.

Published by Jamie Todd Rubin

Jamie Todd Rubin writes fiction and nonfiction for a variety of publications including Analog, Clarkesworld, The Daily Beast, 99U, Daily Science Fiction, Lightspeed, InterGalactic Medicine Show, and several anthologies. He was featured in Lifehacker’s How I Work series. He has been blogging since 2005. By day, he manages software projects and occasionally writes code. He lives in Falls Church, Virginia with his wife and three children. Find him on Twitter at @jamietr.