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‘How to read a newspaper’ lesson

By Staff | Oct 21, 2018

You probably wonder about the headline on this week’s “Editor’s Notebook” column.

I would guess that you already think you know how to read a newspaper, and anything else for that matter. You learned to read a long time ago.

Perhaps you think this is a basic primer. You know, something like… Step 1. Hold newspaper firmly with both hands. Step 2. Read front page stories first, then turn page to page 2 and read story. Step 3. Continue until you reach the last page.

Well, you are not far off.

I worry that way too many folks are not reading this newspaper in the proper way. And by that I do mean from cover too cover.

Some folks scan the headlines and photos, checking to see if the story has something in it they need to know. Unfortunately, there could be some real substance in many of the stories that is not revealed in the headline. Often times, readers can find a lot of other updates on issues not listed in the headline.

Sure, residents of Blue Earth may not be interested in the goings on in Wells, or Wells residents about things in Winnebago, but then, there could be some items in those stories that are of interest to everyone in the county. We should all care that Wells and Winnebago are having new senior living places being built in those towns. It is exciting news for the whole county. We should all care that folks in other parts of the county are upset about wind power, or hog confinement facilities.

Then there is the caution that you really should try and read each story to the end. Newspaper reporters often save little surprises at the ends of their stories. At least, I know I do. Perhaps it is a sort of reward for reading the story all the way to the end. There are at least two of those end of the story gems in this week’s Faribault County Register. The end of the story about the Blue Earth Area School Board voting to sell the former Winnebago School to the city of Winnebago has one of those. Hint: it is the explanation of why the sale price was set at $2.

Here is another word of caution. Just because you have read a story in the Fairmont Sentinel, which was created and written by members of the Register staff, you should not assume the same story is what is now in the Register and so you can skip it. We are writing short versions of Blue Earth City Council, Blue Earth Area School Board and Faribault County Board of Commissioner meetings for the Sentinel. However, we still are writing much more thorough versions of the stories for the Register.

This week is a prime example. While a shorter version of the BEA School Board, Blue Earth City Council and County Board meeting stories were in the Sentinel, much longer and in depth coverage is in this issue of the Register. In fact, there are two stories in this week’s issue, that you are holding in your hands right now, covering many more things that went on at those meetings.

Some of them are quite interesting and important for you to know about.

I urge you to check that out and get all the information from the meetings by reading the more detailed versions in the Register.

There is more to this lesson.

I know you are reading the obituaries, as they are always the most read part of almost every newspaper. And that is OK. I do it myself. But, be sure to read all the rest of the newspaper, as well. That includes all the advertisements in the Register. You might be surprised at what you can learn from the ads; not just what is on sale at the stores, but often what is going on in our Faribault County communities.

You should even read the legal/public notices. Some people tell me they read those notices every week, without fail. Others say they never look at them. I try to make it habit to check them out, and I have often learned a thing or two by doing so.

You may wonder what prompted this column topic this week. Well, it was National Newspaper Week earlier in October, but that wasn’t it. No, it is more about having people say recently they don’t feel they know what is going on in their community, or what is going on with city, county and school board governing bodies.

My answer? Read your local newspaper. We go to community events and meetings and then write a story for you to read and become informed. We go so you don’t have to, and yet can still find out just what the heck is going on around you.

Don’t be one of those blissfully unaware people, or one who thinks they can learn everything they need to know by looking at Facebook or visiting with your neighbors. Read the Register, cover to cover, every week and you will know what is going on around Faribault County.

As always, thanks for reading us.