Newspapers are owned by individuals and corporations, but freedom of the press belongs to the people.



Activity 1.Before starting to work with this student’s manual, work in pairs to interview each other using the questions from Newspaper reading habits questionnaire given below. Record your partner’s answers. Discuss your newspaper habits with the whole class.  

Newspaper reading habits questionnaire

This questionnaire is designed to find out about your newspaper reading habits. Read the questions carefully and answer them as fully as you can.

1. Write the names of 3 national newspapers in your country. What reputation and/or political bias do they have?

(a)

(b)

(c)

2. What is the local newspaper in your area?

3. Which English-language newspapers do you know? What do you know about these newspapers?

4. Is there a particular newspaper you like to read? Why?

5. Do members of your family read the same newspaper as you?

6. How often do you read a newspaper?

7. Do you pay for the newspaper?

8. Is there a particular time of day when you read a newspaper?

9. Is there a particular place where you read a newspaper?

10. How long do you spend reading a newspaper?

11. Are there any sections of the newspaper you never read?

12. Do you always read a newspaper in the same order?

13. Which section of the newspaper do you read first?

14. Which sections do you read next?

15. Do you ever talk to people about things you read in the newspaper?

16. Do you think it is important for people to read newspapers? Why?

17. Do you believe everything you read in the newspaper?

18. Do you think a newspaper is good value for money?

19. What do you do with a newspaper once you have read it?

20. How do you think reading English-language newspapers can help your language learning?

Unit 1 GETTING THE MOST FROM YOUR NEWSPAPER

 

Target Questions:

1. What is a newspaper?

2. What is news?

3. Do newspapers contain news? Can you list and describe the things a newspaper has in it?

4. What categories of newspapers do you know?

5. Why is it important to read a newspaper regularly?

6. How can you tell whether a newspaper is good?

 

· What is a newspaper? The answer to this question seems at first to be so obvious that the question is hardly worth asking.

The term newspaper suggests that the content of a newspaper will be primarily devoted to the news of the day, and some analysis and comment on this news. The dictionary definition of the newspaper is as follows: newspaper – a collection of folded printed sheets of paper published periodically (usually daily or weekly) for circulating news. Newspapers, however, contain a range of items: news, comment and analysis, advertising, entertainment. In fact, the larger part of a newspaper will be devoted to items other than news, for example, TV listings and advertising. A percentage of the news stories will relate to the activities of celebrities, film and TV stars (particularly soap stars), etc. Is this news?

 

· What is news?News is a late Middle English word that means 'tidings, new information of recent events'. Even if we accept this definition as a useful description of what a newspaper delivers, this definition has to be narrowed, as any happening anywhere in the world could be seen as a recent event – SID SMITH EATS CHOCOLATE BAR – EXCLUSIVE. A more useful definition might be 'information about recent events that are of interest to a sufficiently large group, or that may affect the lives of a sufficiently large group'. This definition allows for the difference between local and national newspapers, and for the differences between newspapers of different countries or cultural groups.

 

· Newspaper departments

News

The important job of a newspaper is to print news. You can expect that the newspaper will be made up largely of news items. These may be gathered by local reporters or obtained from the news services (such as Associated Press and United Press International) to which the newspaper subscribes.

Columns

Almost every newspaper has its columnists. Often a number of different newspapers run columns by one man. The columnist writes on a topic of his choice and gives his opinion on the topic. His column is signed. Often the columnist's opinion may be different from the opinions that appear on the editorial page of that paper.

Articles by Correspondents

You may have heard the term foreign correspondent. A correspondent is on a higher level than a reporter, for a reporter only reports, but a correspondent reports, explains, and forecasts news items. The correspondent's name usually appears at the head of his story. The paper, through its correspondents, explains the meaning behind a news item.

Feature Stories

A feature story is a human-interest article. It is news in a way, but it emphasizes the personal element. For example, in a certain city there is a woman who is world-famous for making wonderful masks. The local newspaper decides to do a story on her. This sort of story can wait until next Sunday's edition, or it can be scheduled for two weeks from now. It isn't news that has to be printed right away. The reporter can prepare the story through interviews with the mask-maker and photographs of her and some of her masks. When the paper has room, it will print the interesting story of this woman's work and life.

Editorials

These are found on the editorial page. Editorials are the paper's opinions and comments on news events. Here you will find the editorial writer arguing for a certain point of view. It may be about an item of local interest, such as: Should the garbage be collected by the town, or would it be better to sign a contract with a private garbage-removal company? Or an editorial may be about a national or international event. At any rate, a point of view is expressed. The editorial is not news. It is an opinion about the news, usually designed to persuade readers that a certain point of view is wiser.

Advertisements

Newspaper advertisements are of two general types.

A. Classified

The classified ads are usually found in the back pages of the newspaper. Each one is small, and they are grouped in sections. There is usually a section for real estate – people offering houses or apartments for sale or rental. There is a section of cars for sale, used furniture, and so on. The "help wanted" section is very important.

Here job openings are advertised. Here also, it is possible for a worker to advertise his skills, so that a company looking for a worker can find a qualified person easily.

B. Display

These are the larger ads, usually with a picture, that advertise products and stores. Sometimes a group of people will pay for a display advertisement so that they can put their point of view before the readers. Candidates buy display advertisements before an election.

Advertisements are helpful to the reader in many ways. They help him to get jobs and housing. Classified ads are a public service. Display ads also help the reader by telling him what products stores are featuring and helping him to make up his mind about where to shop and what movies to see.

Special Sections

Practically all newspapers have special pages. You may prefer to read the Clarion rather than the Bulletin because the Clarion has a better sports page, or better comics, or a better coverage of social events, or a better real-estate section. Or you may read both.

Special Columns

Throughout a newspaper you will find columns or parts of columns on many subjects. Columns such as these appear regularly in many papers:

The Home Repairman Parent and Child             Gardening

Movie Reviews         Book Reviews                 Recipes

Music and Records Quiz Corner                     Puzzles

Letters to the Editor Inquiring Reporter           Chess

Bridge                        Weather Forecasts         Stamps

Radio and Television Society News                  Fashions

Programs

The newspaper covers many areas of human activity. It is a valuable means of continuing and broadening education.

 

· The national British newspapers fall into three broad categories: the broadsheet (quality) newspaper (the Telegraph, the Independent, The Times and the Guardian); the middle-range tabloids (the Express, the Daily Mail) and tabloids (the Sun, the Mirror, the Star).

 

Activity 1

Look at the content of one tabloid and broadsheet newspaper, classify the contents under the following headings: news, sport and entertainment, advertising.

Now classify the news under the following headings: home news, overseas news.

Classify the home news into: stories about current events, political stories, stories about celebrities, other.

 

Activity 2

Bring in a signed newspaper column. Present it to the class. Explain what purpose this particular column serves.

Activity 3

Bring in a feature story. Present it to the class. Show how this is different from a news story.

Activity 4

Find one classified ad and one display ad in a newspaper. Write a paragraph on each, explaining how each could be of use to you or your family.

 

Activity 5

Write an editorial on a problem in your university/department, its students.

 

· Why is it important to read a newspaper regularly?

Perhaps you have never thought about the importance of the newspaper in a democracy. Think about it now and try to find out the reason for the importance of newspapers.

Democracy means government by the people. A democracy works only as well as its citizens are able to make it work. Democracy depends on citizens who know the facts and can form intelligent opinions. People who are kept in ignorance cannot properly rule themselves. Someone has to do the ruling for them. The ruler could easily be a dictator. Whenever a dictator takes over a country, one of the first things he does is to grab control of the press. He usually forces it to print only what he wants printed.

In this country, there has been no governmental control over the press. A newspaper could operate largely within the rules it set for itself.

As a citizen in a free country, you cannot play an intelligent part in the running of your community and country unless you are aware of what is going on about you. How can you learn what goes on? One way is through reading newspaper regularly.

How does a newspaper help you become aware of events taking place in this world? A newspaper:

1. Informs its readers.

2. Offers an opinion on the news.

3. Provides valuable information on business issues.

4. Teaches, instructing its readers in many activities, such as: gardening, household repairs, medical advice, advice on personal problems, sewing.

5. Helps the reader shop, through advertisements.

6. Entertains and amuses through special columns and features.

Can you add some more points to this list?

 

· Why should you read a newspaper every day?

1. You are a citizen. The welfare of your country depends on your judgment and knowledge as a voter.

2. The newspaper is important socially. It gives you topics for conversation. If you are not a newspaper reader, you will feel entirely lost in a group discussing important events.

3. It gives various information on business matters and “if you give the people the facts, they usually reach a good decision.”

Can you add some more points to this list?

 

Activity 6

List the order in which you generally read a newspaper. What items are you most interested in? Least? Which items do you never read?

Activity 7

Bring in a news photo that you think is particularly interesting. Be prepared to explain why you think so.

· Which paper to read?

Do you believe everything you read in the newspaper? Or do you think you can't believe anything you read in the papers, because they just print the opinions of the owners?

Many people hold one or the other of these beliefs. Which side is right? Neither of them is right, of course. Neither of these is a good opinion; both are just prejudices. They are not backed up by careful judgment and study of the evidence.

Every newspaper is right some of the time and prejudiced some of the time. Some news is reported accurately and some is slanted. If a paper slants the news too much, you should read another paper. But it is up to you to decide whether your newspaper is giving you good service.

    


· How can you decide whether your newspaper is a good one?

1. A newspaper should be interested in the welfare of its community.

It should be interested in the whole community and not only a certain part of it. It should not exist merely to promote the beliefs, prejudices, or financial interests of its owner.

Is your paper actively interested in better housing, better government, better schools, improved police and fire protection, better government services? Or does it fight against them for one reason or another? Or does it just ignore them?

How can you find the answers to these questions in your newspaper? You can usually get the answers through an examination of the editorials.

 

2. The news stories should be accurate and fair.

News stories should be free from prejudice of any kind. Certain words can be used in such a way as to twist the news to make it favourable to someone or unfavourable to someone else. This is particularly true of headlines, which really should only be "labels" on news stories. But notice what can happen to a headline if the editor wants to "slant" the story:

NEIGHBORHOOD MEETING DEBATES

NEED FOR EXTRA POLICE PROTECTION

(or)

COUNCILMAN SEES NO NEED FOR MORE POLICE

GOVERNOR STUDIES HIGHWAY CONTRACTS

(or)

DISHONESTY SUSPECTED IN HIGHWAY CONTRACTS

Which of the headlines do you consider factual and which do you think are biased or slanted?

 

3. A newspaper should print important news, with the idea of helping citizens become better informed.

What kind of news does your newspaper feature? What stories get the front page and the big headlines? Are they stories of importance? Or are they stories of crime, sex, and scandal? You be the judge. Which kind of newspaper does the better job for you and your community?

 

4. The editorials should argue reasonably, with no false statements.

Always watch the adjectives – the descriptive words – that the editorial writer uses. Is his thinking good? Does he make a good case? Does his argument have weak spots? Is he appealing to your brain or to your feelings?

 

Activity 8

Assume you are a newspaper editor. Make a list of rules to make your paper a good one.

 

· SUMMARY

Newspapers are not simply vehicles for delivering information. They present the reader with aspects of the news, and present it often in a way that intends to guide the ideological stance of the reader. The tabloids, in particular, are very clear about their own voice (THE SUN SAYS, etc.), and a lot of the time pretend that they are addressing a coherent group of people, their own readers. The Sun reader, the Mirror reader – these groups are frequently referred to, appealed to and invoked.

The broadsheets, too, identify their own readership as some kind of homogeneous group with identical aims, beliefs and opinions. The Guardian, for example, is happy to satirise the popular image of its readers – a strip cartoon that appeared regularly in the Guardian had two young financiers discussing their future in-laws as 'Guardian readers', using this term as shorthand for 'left-wing'.

The Independent began its advertising with the image of its reader – the person whose views and opinions are their own – with the slogan: IT IS – ARE YOU?

The problem is that these groups don't exist in the way the papers pretend. Most people have probably read the popular tabloids, and most broadsheet readers will have read rival publications even if they have a preference for one particular one.

However, the creation of groups in this way has the effect of implying the existence of a body of opinion, and frequently opinion that is associated with qualities that the majority of people who read the articles would find desirable.

Different people will have different views, that they all support changes to the asylum laws or to the right to silence. There is probably a very wide range of views on the subject. The editorial presented, though, equates the quality of being law-abiding with a particular attitude, and leads the reader to assume that this attitude is shared by a large number of people.

 

Activity 9

Collect some editorials. Can you identity a 'group' that is being addressed? What language devices are being used to create and address that group?

 

Activity 10

Find articles that either address the reader directly, or that identity a group such as Sun readers or Mirror readers. What values are the individual reader or these groups supposed to hold? How does the newspaper establish these values?

 

Activity11    Quotations about newspapers

Work in pairs. Discuss the quotations given below.

 

Newspapers are owned by individuals and corporations, but freedom of the press belongs to the people.

Anonymous

Newspapers are unable, seemingly, to discriminate between a bicycle accident and the collapse of civilisation.

George Bernard Shaw

 


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