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  • Max Brown, PhD

How to read a newspaper

It appears that few people (you?) know how to read a newspaper. And it may get worse. We've all witnessed it: the pathetic person reading the news from a computer. Hunched over, squinting, drumming his fingers as the machine laboriously brings the material to the screen, the very picture of uncool. A person can read a newspaper with flair and a sense of grace. A computer screen? Never.

Here are some suggestions from a trained sociologist:

First you must take control of the paper, opening it with authority, flexing the creases so that the article you want is displayed flatly and neatly in front of you. Practice this at home so you don’t struggle to flatten the paper or need to smack a fold a second time – the mark of an amateur.

Second, allow yourself only the subtlest changes of expression as you read. Never – this is important – never nod vigorously in agreement. Remember that you are an independent thinker and not a person who takes his intellectual lead from some hack journalist.

The information in the paper is already known to you; you’re only checking how widely disseminated and accurate that information is. You can, however, tear out an article for later reference or checking. Do this quickly without regard for neatness and stuff the article into your pocket.

It’s okay to read the comics, provided you smile indulgently to signify that at least some of the strips rise to a primitive level of amusement. However, do not, under any circumstances, take out a pen and start working on the games or crossword in public. Only a person with no other challenges in his or her life has the time or interest for such trifles.

If available, bring more than one newspaper with you. This, obviously, identifies you as a person who is either open to alternative views, or needs to be alert to those views to defend your vast interests. This extends your reading time, but it’s worth it in terms of the perceptions of the other patrons, your audience. Order another coffee.

When done, leave the newspapers behind. You’ve extracted everything of value from them.

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