Newspapers belong to the oldest methods of getting information to the public and keeping people well-informed on important events. They can cover more news in greater detail than other media and reporters have more time to get the facts straight.

Producing a newspaper requires speed and good organisation. Reporters, editors and photographers always face deadlines. Many other workers are also involved in making a paper: advertising salespeople, artists, printing press operators and truck drivers.

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Types of Newspapers

Newspapers can be divided into three basic types: dailies, weeklies and special interest newspapers . In addition , almost all newspapers have their own online edition which provides news on the Internet.

Daily newspapers print world, national and local news. Many of them also have a section about events that happen in the area in which the reader lives. Most dailies are distributed in the morning, but in some large cities newspapers have an afternoon or evening edition that comes out when people travel home from work.

Sunday newspapers have additional features and more pages than weekday editions. Topics like entertainment, finance or travel are included in separate sections, which sometimes make Sunday papers so large that they are difficult to handle.

Weekly papers are distributed in a much smaller area and have news that is more local and personal. In small communities people know each other and are often interested in activities of their friends and neighbours.

Special interest papers are newspapers for a special part of the population, like Hispanics in America. Some of them also focus on certain topics like sports or business.

Contents of Newspapers

  • International news – large format papers publish more news about world affairs than tabloids
  • National news covers the main events that happen in the country.
  • Local news centres on what happens in the state or district that the reader lives in . Tabloids have more local stories than others.
  • Editorials are articles that show the opinion of the writer .
  • Letters to the editor come from readers and show their opinion on certain topics or agree or disagree with an editorial.
  • Comic strips are a series of drawn pictures , mostly by a cartoonist, that show a story.
  • Crosswords and other puzzles give the reader the chance to solve certain tasks
  • Horoscopes give you a description of your character and the things that may happen to you, based on the position of the stars and planets at the time of your birth.
  • Television guides give the reader an overview of the programmes they can watch throughout the day.
  • Sports are a very important part of most newspapers . That’s why they are often given a larger section at the back of a newspaper.
  • Weather reports and forecasts give the readers information on local as well as travel and international weather
  • Death notices appear mostly in local papers . They show a list of people who have died in the region in the last few days.
  • Advertisements take up large parts of a newspaper and are positioned throughout the paper. Sometimes they can be a whole page in size, in other cases they make up only a few lines.
  • Advice columns offer tips for readers and answer their questions on certain topics
  • Movie, art, book and music reviews give the reader information on new releases. Reporters give their own opinion on how good a new film, book or a newly released CD is

Crosswords are very popular among readers
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Gathering Information

The first step in printing a newspaper is to collect enough information . Reporters and correspondents do a lot of research work in order to gather the facts. They must also find out which news is important and worth reporting and which information can be left out.

A newspaper employs various kinds of reporters. A beat reporter covers certain issues and topics, mostly over a longer period of time. He or she may report on a crime and the trial that follows. An education reporter follows topics related to schools and universities. Other beat reporters cover topics like fashion or science. General assignment reporters cover any story that they are given to by the editor. Sometimes reporters spend months trying to get stories on corruption and other wrongdoings. These stringers, as they are called, do not work for a paper, but send them stories regularly.

Large newspapers often have offices in other cities or countries . Foreign correspondents work in these offices and can send news stories to the newspaper very quickly.

Newspapers cannot have reporters and correspondents everywhere in the world. They get part of their information from news or wire services. Such services collect information from reporters all over the world and relay it via computers and satellites to newspapers. Among the largest news services are United Press International and Associated Press (both USA). Other services include Reuters (UK), Agence France Press (France) and ITAR-TASS (Russia) .

Reporter taking notes at press conference
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Reuters news agency in London
Image:  Mikey from Wythenshawe, Manchester, UKCC BY 2.0

Writing and Editing

Most reporters only provide information and the basic facts of a story and rarely write the whole story themselves. This is usually done by news editors. They write stories as a team on computers that are connected together. The finished story goes to a copy editor or reader, who corrects spelling and makes the story easier to read. If it is too long he makes it shorter and also finds a headline.

Stories would be boring without photos . Newspapers get pictures from news services and sometimes have their own photographers who work for them. Graphic artists design charts or illustrations for certain stories.

Columnists write stories that offer readers opinions about the news and important events. These editorials often try to influence the opinion of the reader.

Layout and Printing

The layout shows where the text, photos, advertisements etc.. should appear on the page. Almost all newspapers use computers to create layouts. Usually these layouts are just empty frames that are filled when the news comes in.

The completed paper is transferred electronically from computers to the printing press. Most papers use offset printers in which the contents is put on curved printing plates.

Every day newspapers must be finished at a certain time, so that they can be delivered to the readers on time. For the morning editions this deadline is mostly late at night or shortly after midnight. For newspapers published in the afternoon the deadline is sometime in the morning or near noon.

Modern printing press
Image: Sven Teschke, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Delivery and Circulation

After printing, the papers are bundled into groups , loaded on lorries and delivered to stores, vending machines and newsstands. Thousands of carriers pick up newspapers at a distribution point and deliver them to private homes, because everyone wants to get the newspaper as early as possible.

Circulation managers organize the sales of newspapers and try to increase the number of readers.

Newsstand in New York City
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A newspaper cannot exist without advertisements . They pay for at least 75 % of all costs. The people who work in this department sell ads to individuals and companies.

Newspapers carry two types of ads. Display ads can be as large as a full page and can also include illustrations and photos. Classified ads or want ads usually appear in a separate section. They often have only a few lines in which people offer goods and services or look for jobs and apartments. Classified’s are grouped into categories so that readers can easily find what they want.

Newspapers in the 21st Century

The invention of computers in the 20th century has greatly changed the way newspapers are made. Today, reporters can save time by sending the main facts of their stories by e-mail . Editors can easily make corrections with spell checkers. Articles are shuffled from one page to another and color graphics and pictures make newspapers more attractive.

However, newspapers are facing huge challenges in today’s world. Increasing costs of publishing have driven many newspapers out of business. In addition, income from ads is falling because newspapers must share the advertising market with television, the internet and other media.

Reading habits have also changed. Younger readers are not attracted to newspapers as strongly as previous generations. Many people subscribe to online editions, where they get news quicker. There is also increased competition from blogs and social media.

Newspapers in the US and Europe



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