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How to Read Newspaper Stories at a Glance

Updated on September 30, 2009

Newspaper Stories are Constructed to be Read Dynamically

Since the invention of the newspaper 271 years ago, news stories have been structured according to principles for reading faster with greater comprehension and recall.

Among the features of reading dynamics included in a typical news story are: an easy-to-read preview, which gives the reader the essence of the story in seconds; condensed data for rapidly constructing a recall pattern, a memory aid; and the reduction of the number of eye movements to increase speed, accomplished here, by the use of a short-width column. A news story also permits the reader to select desired information fast.

What happens in the preparation of a news story, is that the journalists preview the story for the reader, and they supply the preview in the headlines and in the first few paragraphs.

A recall pattern, a graphic memory-stimulating device, is usually based on answers to the questions Who?, What?, When?, Where?, Why?, and How? All these questions are answered for the reader in the first few paragraphs of a news story.

The recall pattern also serves as a guide to the remainder of the story, which results in faster reading with increased comprehension.

Reading a news story is speeded by the narrow width of the column. While along lines of greater than column length the eye stops one or more times. The eye can cover a whole column line without stopping. That means it can move swiftly down the page without impediment, a technique for speed reading.

A news story is so structured that following the headlines and lead paragraphs, the information is presented in order of decreasing importance.

You can stop reading whenever you feel the information is no longer important to you. And you can skip around as well. Once you've read the headlines and the lead paragraphs, you can understand the paragraphs   under   any   subhead   without reading the preceding paragraphs.

Reading at a Glance

Employing a simple hand motion, which consists of placing your outstretched index finger at the center of the first line of the headline, and racing it with extreme rapidity down the center of the column.

Since the column width is short your eye can see the entire line, so you don't have to read across the page. Read down the page instead, it's much faster.

Before you read, build a mental recall pattern around the idea, and you'll breeze through the rest of the piece. Use the same approach for any news feature.


If the news story is lengthy or if it jumps over to another page, you won't be able to read it at a glance. But you'll still be able to read it far faster than you would have read it using your old reading method. And you'll learn far more from it, and remember what you learned longer.

Editorial and opinion pieces are not structured like news stories, and at times can be difficult reading. Tackle them with the MRP. You don't have to draw a recall pattern; you can visualize it in your mind. Since Opinion/Editorial pieces are usually set in wider column widths than news stories, use the swift underlining hand motion.

Use the MRP as well on other newspaper think pieces, ranging from film, book, and theatrical reviews to household hints. You'll be astonished at how well you'll understand a recipe after you've used the MRP ap#proach with it, and how much easier it will be to use.

News features—yarns about the Loch Ness monster, reviews of recent developments in science, interviews with TV stars, and stories of that kind—follow the general structure of the news story, with one exception. Often the opening paragraphs sum up the main idea of the story with an anecdote.


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