Columnist not alone in going through newspaper haphazardly

GREENFIELD — I thought I was the only one who reads the Daily Reporter haphazardly. I’ve recently found that other people have their own weird ways of reading papers. I wonder what these differences mean.

The layout grabs my eyes when I go through the paper. I notice how well the staff chooses graphics, finds stories worth writing, captures local stories with original photos, sizes the headlines and visually balances all the content of a page.

I look at the wording of the news headlines to detect possible bias. That’s the way you’re supposed to talk in the journalism field. You use words like possible and alleged. So, I look for possible bias, not actual. To gauge it, I’d have to read the article, and maybe I don’t feel like doing that kind of reading.

One of my favorite things to do with a newspaper is to see how much space is given to a headline and how much information is squeezed into it. Then I read the subheader to see how well it’s written to expand on the headline and draw me into the story. I love subheaders.

One of my least favorite things about newspapers is their disrespect for commas. I use a comma whenever I feel like using one in the articles I write. Magazine and newsletter editors respect my commas, but the Daily Reporter, like other papers, quietly removes some of my best ones. I think smart commas help us read more smoothly. When they’re omitted, they often cause the reader to go back over a sentence again. And, really, does that little piece of punctuation consume so much space that the publisher can’t afford it?

The classified ads draw me in, too. I look for trends in what people are selling, stuff I don’t want but am glad they are getting rid of. I know what it’s like to have an exercise bike hogging space in the spare room because I thought I’d use it to keep fit.

I finally put mine out by the road and some guy took it before I could get the “Free” sign taped on it. Hot dog! I go through the classifieds and giggle at the merchandise I’d never buy again, not even at a bargain price, not even for free. It’s a great read!

My wife is a woman of routine and wants the Daily Reporter delivered on time. It usually is, but when it’s not, the office gets a polite call and makes sure the latest edition is here as soon as possible. She has to have that paper.

Once the paper’s in the mailbox or on the driveway, she leaves it on the kitchen table until it’s time to read it. She needs the entire table or floor to do this. I asked her how much of the paper she read, because I thought she read every article, since she’s always telling me, “Here’s one I think you’d be interested in.”

She informed me that she doesn’t read much of it. She must mean paragraphs, because her eyes are all over it, and she takes her time. She’s not just reading pictures.

A neighbor of mine fetches his big-city paper at the exact second it’s delivered. He spreads it out on his workbench and reads it later in the day. But he says he isn’t reading it.

A friend of mine in Terre Haute starts his day by devouring the Tribune-Star with breakfast. He brings it when visiting me. Last time he was here, I told him I was impressed by how much of the paper he reads. He said, “I hardly read any of it at all.”

I believe something important is happening when people read, comma, and I think we all need to keep reading. I wish I knew what people aren’t reading when they’re reading.

Author photo
Rorye Hatcher is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. She can be reached at ​317-477-3211 or rhatcher@greenfieldreporter.com.