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Division of Student Life
Student Newspaper Readership Program


How to Read a Newspaper?

       How to Read a Newspaper Module (New York Times)
       How to Read a Newspaper Movie  (New York Times)
       Daily Miracle (The News & Observer)

A typical daily newspaper features about a half-dozen stories just on its front page!  Even though you might think, “I’ll never have time to read the whole paper!” there’s a way to make reading a newspaper every day manageable.

  • Today’s newspapers are divided into many different parts and sections. These allow readers to choose the stories of most interest to them.
  • A quick glance at the front of a newspaper can give us an important insight into what newspaper editors consider the most important stories of the day from each newspaper’s perspective.
  • Editors choose stories carefully, sometimes changing them right up to the final deadline for important and late-breaking news.
  • There are a number of common features in almost every newspaper: [Above the fold/Below the fold].
  • On a newspaper’s front page you’ll always find headlines, photos and captions.
  • The byline, or name of the journalist writing the story, is always included with a story.  Once you start noticing the byline, you’ll begin to recognize your favorite reporters.
  • Certain other parts of a newspaper’s front page are always apparent, like the dateline, which provides a time or place stamp for the story.
  • The masthead, which identifies the paper…crossheads, which lead into the stories…and the lead paragraph, which kicks off every story with the “how,” “when,” “where,” and “why.”
  •  Some other standard feature of a newspaper include where and how articles are placed.
  • The length of the story and the placement of the story tells you whether it is new news or a continuing story.
  • Top news stories appear in the upper right…while important news that may come in at the last minute can be found right in the center of the paper.
  • Large articles typically describe the results of an incident or event…while short or small articles describe what is currently happening.
  • Look for these smaller or shorter articles when anticipating economic news or additional news about incidents following a major event.
  • While stories above the fold are considered the most important…those below the fold are usually continuations of previous days’ stories.
  • “Page One” stories vary from newspaper to newspaper so browsing several newspapers will give you a good idea of current events.
  • To take a quick look at front pages from newspapers across the U.S., try Newseum’s Today’s Front Pages at
  • For a snapshot of current opinions on hot issues turn to the Opinion and Editorial Pages.  Here perspectives on hot topics, like going to war and the presidential election, provide insight into how members of our community and nation feel.
  • While going to war may be “Page One” news, the Opinion and Editorial Pages tell us what others think and feel about this news.
  • Following the tradition of community conversations, also known as “civic discourse,” newspapers are a great place for people and writers in the community to express their opinion.
  • The Editorials page will contain Op/Ed pieces, letters to the Editor, and Columnists.
  • Newspapers have recently developed new sections with specific themes or focus.  Each section also has its own “Page One” and follows the “above the fold” rule about the most important stories.
  • Sections often include a mix of news and feature stories.
  • Some sections are published on a specific day of the week while others are published daily.
  • Some typical newspaper sections include The New York Times Science Section on Tuesdays.
  • Business, which features daily business-related news stories and Stock Market quotes…and a Sunday Metro/Local section.  In a paper such as The New York Time's, many people in the greater New Jersey/New York metropolitan area also use this section to find out about local happenings, like local politics, for example.
  • The Arts section shows movie listings, reviews, and theatre information…while a House and Home Section features upcoming real estate trends and classifieds.  With their versatility, tight reporting, and carefully researched stories, it’s easy to see how newspapers remain a popular form of media in a century dedicated to high tech innovations.

Pick one up and get your fill of news today!

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