Newspaper Reader: Reading, Writing, and Thinking about Today's Events

Newspaper Reader: Reading, Writing, and Thinking about Today's Events




From the Preface:

The Newspaper Reader attempts to narrow the distance between the texts we use to teach critical reading, writing, and thinking and the lives of our students . . . . Newspapers are precisely about—even as they are about more than-our students' experiences . . . . The Newspaper Reader, therefore, assumes that as students begin to love the process of reading in, writing on, and thinking about newspapers, their lives will become richer and more meaningful.

Each section contains three storylines, and within each storyline is a single example of a report, an editorial, and a feature article. Therefore, each section contains nine reading selections: three reports, three editorials, and three feature articles.

Including editorials, reports, and feature articles in each section reflects the fact that most developing writers concentrate on three types of essay: the personal experience essay, the expository essay, and the argumentative essay. The selections included in each section approximate these writing genres.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780131838048
Publisher: Prentice Hall (School Division)
Pages: 288

Read an Excerpt

There is a common refrain—posed as a question—heard within educational circles: how do students learn to become lifelong readers, writers, and thinkers? The question seems logical enough to those of us who have chosen academic careers. We find joy in the discovery of reading, pleasure in the articulation of thoughts and ideas into textual and oral forms, and exhilaration in encountering ideas that challenge our own. We want our students to find this joy, pleasure, and exhilaration too.

For most of our students, though, coming of age as they are in the early twenty-first century, the question seems almost silly. After all, they know that they are being asked to deal with an ever-increasing body of information and data in an increasingly quick manner. Who has the time to read, write, and think? As educators, our response tends to be "Who doesn't have the time to read, write, and think?" Yet however logical the response is, it lacks a certain sort of practical appeal. The better approach is not to preach to our students about what they should do but to show them how understanding ideas, modes of communication, and texts will make their life richer—in every sense of the word. There is nothing radical to this approach. It has been the approach favored by generations of scholar/teachers. In practice, though, educators tend to show students the value of ideas, modes of communication, and texts through the "great texts": through authors such as Shakespeare, Weber, and Darwin among many, many deserving others. Important and necessary as these texts are, they seem distant from the lives and concerns of most of our students, especially those in the developmentalstage of critical reading, writing, and thinking. The Newspaper Reader attempts to narrow the distance between the texts we use to teach critical reading, writing, and thinking and the lives of our students, not because we assume that students should stop with newspapers but, rather, because newspapers are an appropriate place for students to begin. Newspapers are precisely about—even as they are about more than—our students' experiences.

However relevant newspapers may actually be to our students' lives, papers have an uncertain place in the lives of many students. School newspapers tend to be perused by students at the school that produced it, but students less frequently read local and national newspapers. Exceptions can be found among individual students, of course, but generally speaking this is true. Arguably, students give at least some attention to their school newspapers because much of the reported news has explicit relevance to the students' lives. With just a little guidance, instruction, and referential knowledge, any student should be able to make the leap to local, national, and international newspapers. Once the heap has been made, the student's sense of self will be enlarged tremendously as he or she becomes involved in local, national, and global discussions.

We are unapologetic that we want to see students in high schools and on college campuses carrying newspapers around with them. Newspapers are inexpensive, portable, and packed with information. They can be downloaded onto laptop computers and read under the trees. Newspapers always publish some materials in succinct forms, so students do not lose any part of the day to work through a single article or even an entire section. And there is something to interest everyone in the newspaper: world events, local news, inquiries into art and artistry, business news, sports, and so on. The Newspaper Reader, therefore, assumes that as students begin to love the process of reading in, writing about, and thinking about newspapers, their lives will become richer.

This is a lot of responsibility to put on newspapers, to be sure. Newspapers can bear it, though. After all, newspapers can change the world. In the past, they have helped topple governments, and therefore, they are one of the first things totalitarian regimes attempt to control. It is not that newspapers themselves are the instruments of change, but their revelation of the world is clear and critical enough that readers can see things as they are and not as powerful people or institutions want them to seem. People read newspapers and then act on this reading.

Newspapers will continue to bear the burdens we place on them by simply doing what they have always done best: reporting the way the world is. This is not to suggest that newspapers are free of bias; they certainly are not. Reporters are human and subject to all the foibles of humans. Editors cannot publish everything, and they must select which stories to print and which to discard. Still, the newspaper's intention is to minimize bias and dishonesty—especially in articles that report on events and people—and paint an honest (sometimes brutally honest) picture of the world. Citizens and students have a lot to learn from this intentional—if imperfect—practice. In a world where spin and plagiarism seem to be the order of the day, we could all use more exposure to people who deal in honesty and objectivity.

Newspapers do more, though, than provide us with an honest appraisal of ourselves and our world. Newspapers also tell us who we might be. Editorials are particularly good at this. They provide us with other choices. Sometimes editorials support the status quo, but frequently they undermine the conventional wisdom by arguing—either logically or emotionally—for a new way to make sense of things. Beyond editorials, newspapers generally provide strategic resources that allow us to either alter or amplify our lives. It is hard to imagine living, believing, or acting in ways other than those that have become habit for us. Newspapers provide models—or resources for self-construction—that enable readers to see alternatives to current ways of living, ways that seem so natural and commonsensical as to be second nature. In addition to changing lives, newspapers help readers amplify those aspects of themselves that when revealed in a newspaper article about someone or something else—they can further cultivate and grow. It is one thing to be a naturally courageous person; it is another thing entirely to read about someone else's struggle to be courageous and the effects of this courage on the individual's local community, corporation, or team. Reading leads to reflection, which ultimately leads the reader to make conscious choices about how and when and why to exercise his or her abilities.

There are, then, several positive reasons for students to bring newspapers into their everyday lives. There is also an important negative reason for keeping newspapers close: people who do not read through and work through the newspaper will not have sufficient referential knowledge to understand—let alone address—most of the significant issues in their social, cultural, political, and economic lives. Newspapers put issues in context. They provide a base of knowledge for thinkers to reference as they try to work through new ideas and problems they encounter. For example, we can better understand how to develop health care policy in this country by looking at how other countries (both similar and very different from our own) have developed health care policies. This is straightforward enough. The trouble is that to really be able to read a newspaper (or any other significant text), the reader needs a substantial body of referential material with which to begin; otherwise, it is hard for a reader to begin making sense of the article, much less the article's relevance to other aspects of the reader's life. Fortunately, readers can quickly develop this body of reference by reading the newspaper daily. The newspaper itself becomes a reference that can then be applied to a thousand other situations.

Students today are living in a new type of world that may or may not be qualitatively different from the world that earlier generations experienced. Regardless, it is certainly quantitatively different. Newspapers are responding to this quantitative change by becoming ever more succinct, compact, and portable. We should not assume, however, that our students have the leisure to sit down at the breakfast table every morning and read the paper at length. Still, if our students intend to play more than a passive role in life, newspapers—in whatever forms they develop into—will have to become an integral part of their everyday experience. No other news source provides the depth, breadth, and integrity that newspapers have traditionally exhibited. Important as they are, though, newspapers are hard work. In fact, they may be so important precisely because they are hard work. Simply put, there are no shortcuts to becoming a better reader, a better writer, and a better thinker. The section of The Newspaper Reader on the writing process makes this point clear. At some point, every reader must open up the newspaper and start. The Newspaper Reader provides a way for readers to start. But students should not stop with this book. They should keep opening newspapers. THE STRUCTURE AND ORGANIZATION OF THE BOOK

Given our desire to promote and engage newspapers, it will not be surprising to most readers that the structure of this book mirrors the structure found in any typical newspaper, with a News section, a Business section, a Discovery section, a Sports section, and a Life section. Each section includes reading selections from newspapers around the country and around the world that are appropriate to a particular section of the newspaper. The criteria for choosing the readings were based on several different elements—the quality of the writing, the renown of the author, a desire to represent different opinions and newspapers, and the historical importance of the topic, among other things—but the final choice to include one article over another was ultimately driven by a desire to collect materials that the developing reader, writer, and thinker would find interesting and stimulating. In the Sports section, for instance, this decision led to a selection of newspaper articles that are slightly older than those in the other sections. Because interest in sports tends to change as quickly as a win-loss record, stories that have lasting appeal were selected. This is not to suggest, however, that the newspaper selections in this book lack a sense of immediacy. On the contrary: a Special Editions section has been included—which will be updated in subsequent editions of The Newspaper Reader to maintain the book's immediacy—that includes articles of immediate relevance on cross-cultural reactions to the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City. The Newspaper Reader includes a wide range of historical and contemporary, intellectual and popular newspaper selections that will prepare readers for the sort of reading they will encounter in any newspaper they pick up.

For consistency, every section of The Newspaper Reader includes three storylines, each covered by a report, an editorial, and a feature article. Thus, each section contains nine reading selections: three reports, three editorials, and three feature articles.

The selections within a section do not fall in the same order within each storyline; for example, the feature is the first article in the lotteries storyline, and the report is the first article in the fast-food storyline. This choice was made in order to further the logical and cumulative development of the storyline itself. However, the genre of each selection is clearly identified.

What may not be immediately apparent is that this organization encourages readers to use this book in at least two different ways. In particular, sections can be used independently or together. Another way to think of this is that the book can be used both "vertically" and "horizontally." When the book is used vertically, readers will read, for example, the editorial selections in each section. When the book is used horizontally, readers will move through each section article by article. This organization facilitates the book's use for multiple pedagogical purposes. If the intention is to focus on the construction of an expository essay, for example, then it would be most useful to read all the reports. If the intention is to critically understand the role of women in sports, then it would be most useful to read all the selections in the storyline dealing with Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan.

The decision to include editorials, reports, and feature articles in each section reflects the fact that most developing writers concentrate on three types of essay: the personal experience essay, the expository essay, and the argumentative essay. The selections included in each section approximate these writing genres. Therefore, the selections serve as examples for writers to model and critique as they produce their own essays.

The inclusion of articles that are appropriate to the experience of developing writers is supported by the book's larger pedagogical structure. This structure reinforces the overall goal of The Newspaper Reader to provide a sound introduction to basic rhetorical skills and strategies. A brief introduction precedes each storyline, along with vocabulary words (arranged from less to greater difficulty) found in the selections. Following the storyline are five exercises that ask readers to reflect and comment on the characteristics of effective writing, discussed in the next section of the book. These questions have not been labeled as such, but they are placed in the same order in which the characteristics are introduced in the chapter on the writing process: focus, conventions, content, organization, and style. Finally, each storyline includes two assignments. One asks readers to conduct some type of primary or secondary research relevant to the storyline, and the other provides a writing prompt that builds off the storyline.

Beyond these rhetorical goals, The Newspaper Reader also has a specific analytic goal made explicit in the chapter on reading the news for narratives. This chapter foregrounds the idea that newspapers—like many other texts—are written as narratives. Therefore, a critical reader must be sensitive to the specific narratives the selection is mapping and/or reflecting. For this reason, it is useful to view the subheadings within each section as a storyline rather than as three necessarily distinct articles. Readers should approach the storylines as constructed narratives that reinforce or undermine each other but always reference each other. This is perhaps one of the most important lessons for developing readers and thinkers to learn, especially as they approach texts that are too often categorized as objective and therefore necessarily "true." Summaries of the storylines and pedagogical prompts are available in the Instructor's Edition of The Newspaper Reader.

Clearly, then, The Newspaper Reader is designed to allow both maximum flexibility and customization as well as a strong rhetorical and analytic structure. The Reader is equally appropriate for the writing, reading, and/or critical thinking classrooms. Instructors in all three fields and in courses that integrate the fields will find this book useful for all their purposes. Finally, both developing and more advanced students will find material here to interest and challenge them. It would be nice if we, as authors, could take the majority of the credit for the design of a book that works on so many levels and for so many constituencies. The truth is, though, that the book's functionality is as much a result of newspaper articles themselves as they are of our wise choices. Newspapers have always intended to be a great equalizer: they have always intended to bring together the reading public irrespective of any individual's skills and background. The Newspaper Reader is one more example of how well newspaper articles are meeting their intention to constantly create and re-create the public sphere. THE NEW YORK TIMES AND PRENTICE HALL SPECIAL STUDENT SUPPLEMENT

The New York Times and Prentice Hall have partnered to assist educators in using the NY Times in college and university courses as a resource to foster students' understanding of the world through the highest quality journalism. Every day, students will find news stories, analysis, and opinion about vital issues discussed in their classes and textbooks. Debates about government rulings, international relations, accounting standards, pop culture, and science and technology take on special vividness and clarity.

Instructors can use the New York Times to enrich courses by:

  • Drawing on the newspaper and its archives to compare and contrast developments over the years
  • Illustrating relationships between events, laws, policies, and theories
  • Forming small groups to discuss individual articles or issues
  • Assigning case studies or research assignments based on news articles
  • Giving quizzes based on news coverage
  • Developing debates based on current events, Supreme Court decisions, or legislative initiatives

Table of Contents

(NOTE: Each section contains 3 storylines, and within each storyline is an example of a report, an editorial, and a feature article; as well as an introduction and vocabulary section and an exercises and activities section.)


1. The Writing Process.

2. Reading the News for Narratives: Overview.

NARRATIVE: "New York: Sentimental Journeys," Joan Didion. The New York Review of Books: January 17, 1991.



Elizabeth Smart: A Miraculous Return.

REPORT: “Elizabeth's Uncle Finds Speculation Ludicrous,” Derek Jensen. The Deseret Morning News: June 15, 2002.

FEATURE: “Kidnapping Case Puts Mormons on Defensive,” Michael Janofsky. The New York Times: March 24, 2003.

EDITORIAL: “Elizabeth Smart's Case Is Symbolic of an Ugly Little Secret,” Jan Jarboe Russell. San Antonio Express-News: March 23, 2003.

The USA Patriot Act: Anti-Terrorist/Anti-Liberty.

REPORT: “An Intelligence Giant in the Making; Anti-Terrorism Law Likely to Bring Domestic Apparatus of Unprecedented Scope,” Jim McGee. The Washington Post: November 4, 2001.

EDITORIAL: “On Civil Liberties; Under Cloak of 'Security,'”The San Francisco Chronicle: December 9, 2001.

FEATURE: “Patriot Act Available Against Many Types of Criminals,” Michelle Mittelstadt. The Dallas Morning News: September 8, 2003.

Jayson Blair of The New York Times: Truth and the Media.

REPORT: “Correcting the Record: Times Reporter Who Resigned Leaves Long Trail ofDeception,” Dan Barry, David Barstow, Jonathan D. Glater, Adam Liptak, and Jacques Steinberg (Research support by Alain Delaqueriere and Carolyn Wilder). The New York Times: May 11, 2003.

FEATURE: “The Blair Pitch Project,” Joe Hagan. The New York Observer: May 26, 2003.

EDITORIAL: “Blair Didn't Just Steal Words from Someone Else's Story. He Also Stole–And Destroyed–Trust,” Macarena Hernandez. The San Antonio Express-News: June 1, 2003.


Steve Bezos of A Billionaire on Paper.

EDITORIAL: “Party On, Paul,”The Seattle Times: June 8, 1998.

FEATURE: “The Virtual Route to Happiness; Jeff Bezos Is a New Kind of Entrepreneur. He Runs 'the Earth's Biggest Bookstore', but He Works from a Cubbyhole and His Shops Number Precisely Nil,” Ann Treneman. The Independent (London): September 10, 1997.

REPORT: “Amazon Chief Shrugs Off Slide; 'There Is Now An Irrational Under-Exuberance for the Potential of the Internet',” Jane Martinson and David Teather. The Guardian (London): June 26, 2000.

A National Obsession with Lotteries: Path to Riches or Path to Destruction?

FEATURE: “The Lottery's Poor Choice of Locations; Boom in Instant Games, Keno Widens Sales Gap Between White and Blue Collar,” David M. Halbfinger and Daniel Golden (Steven M. Cohn contributed). The Boston Globe: February 12, 1997.

REPORT: “Lottery's Boom Era Is Over, House Panel Told; Profits Are $12 Million Short of School Aid Goal,” James Bradshaw. The Columbus Dispatch: February 16, 1995.

EDITORIAL: “HOPE Makes a College Degree More Accessible, and That's Bad,” Mack A. Moore. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: August 1, 2003.

Fast Food World: Transnational Business and Homogeneity.

REPORT: “American Fast Food Invades Singapore,” Peter Ooi. United Press International. October 6, 1980.

FEATURE: “Burgers for Burghers,” T.W. Lapereau. The Jerusalem Post: October 27, 1989.

EDITORIAL: “Profile McDonald's: Everyone Loves a McNasty,” James Delingpole. The Independent (London): April 4, 1999.


Space: The Fatal Frontier?

REPORT: “Space Shuttle Explodes In Midair, Killing Crew; Mission Lost In Seconds,” Larry Eichel and Mike Leary. Philadelphia Inquirer: January 29, 1986.

EDITORIAL: “The Grief Is the Same, the Disaster Different,” Alfred Lubrano. Philadelphia Inquirer: February 4, 2003.

FEATURE: “Voyager Celebrates 25 Years of Discovery,” William Harwood. The Washington Post: August 19, 2002.

Cyberspace: Enter the Internet.

REPORT: “Cyberbegging Frees Some from Tangled Financial Web,” Martha Irvine. The Washington Post: February 23, 2003.

EDITORIAL: “An Ever-expanding Community Called Cyberspace,” Tom Ambrose. Business Times: July 18, 1994.

FEATURE: “Dispenser Of Instant Treasures; The Internet, Especially the Auction Site Ebay, Has Revolutionized the Collecting of Pez and Just About Everything Else,” David Streitfeld. Los Angeles Times: November 22, 2001.

Cloning: Do These Genes Fit?

REPORT: “Debate About Cloning Returns to Congress,” Rick Weiss. The Washington Post: January 30, 2003.

EDITORIAL: “Genome Project; 'Source Book for Biology' or 'Expensive Tinker Toy'?” William Allen. St. Louis Post-Dispatch: February 5, 1989.

FEATURE: “Double Helix Anniversary: Cardboard Cutouts and Flash of Insight Ignited Biological Revolution with Discovery of DNA Structure,” Malcolm Ritter. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: February 10, 2003.


Michael Jordan: Athlete (Un)Extraordinaire.

REPORT: “NBA Star Signs Baseball Deal,”Agence France Presse: February 7, 1994.

EDITORIAL: “Who Has Won and Who Has Lost,” Bob Greene. The Chicago Tribune: March 16, 1994.

FEATURE: “A Humbled Jordan Learns New Truths,” Ira Berkow. The New York Times: May 22, 1994.

Ice-Skater vs. Ice-Skater: From Graceful Dance to Bloodsport.

FEATURE: “Harding, the Talented but Troubled Champion, Is Going for a Bigger Title,” Jere Longman. The New York Times: January 10, 1994.

REPORT: “Tonya Harding Questioned About Kerrigan Attack,”United Press International: January 12, 1994.

  EDITORIAL: “Silver Lining; Tracking Our Nancy,” Dan Shaughnessy. The Boston Globe: February 26, 1994.

How Americans Came to Remember What America Was All About: The U.S. Olympic Hockey Team Wins Gold at Lake Placid.

FEATURE: “'Do You Believe in Miracles? Yes!'; Hal Bock Covered the 1980 U.S.-Soviet Game at Lake Placid,” Hal Bock. The Associated Press: August 12, 2003.

EDITORIAL: “3 Gold Medalists' Words of Advice,” Mike Eruzione. The New York Times: February 5, 1984.

REPORT: “Olympians Go Their Own Ways,” Kathy Blumenstock. The Washington Post: April 17, 1983.


Fashion: Off the Hanger and onto the Streets.

REPORT: “Denim's Lucky “Seven”–How $100-Plus Jeans Became A Must have Fashion Fad,” Teri Agin. The Wall Street Journal: February 24, 2003.

EDITORIAL: “Men's Fashion Sense Is Expanding, Like Spandex,” Olivia Barker. USA Today: January 29, 2003.

FEATURE: “Fashion Emergency: Duct Tape Makes a Fine Prom Dress,” Ann Zimmerman. The Wall Street Journal: February 28, 2003.

Food: We Are What We Won't Eat.

REPORT: “Researchers Chew the Fat on Merits of the Atkins Diet,” Nanci Hellmich. USA Today, August 6, 2002.

EDITORIAL: “Fat Kids, Working Moms: Link Looms Large,” Mary Eberstadt. Los Angeles Times: February 18, 2003.

FEATURE: “Convenience Cuisine: In the Search for Quick, Weeknight Meals, 'Home Cooking' Has Taken on a Whole New Meaning,” Candy Sagon. The Washington Post: January 29, 2003.

Fads: The Trend That Never Ends.

REPORT: “Cutting to the Chase: Kitchen-Only Tours,” Debra Galant. The New York Times: February 6, 2003.

EDITORIAL: “The Great White Hype,” Julia Keller. The Chicago Tribune: February 18, 2003.

FEATURE: “The Shag: A 70s Icon Spreads Out Again,” Cindy Chang. Los Angeles Times: August 22, 2002.


September 11, 2001: The World Falls Apart.

REPORT: “U.S. Attacked; Hijacked Jets Destroy Twin Towers and Hit Pentagon in Day of Terror,” N. R. Kleinfield. The New York Times: September 12, 2001.

REPORT: “Bodies Pulled from Pentagon; Troops Patrol District Streets,” Steve Twomey and Arthur Santana. The Washington Post: September 12, 2001.

REPORT: “After the Attacks: United Flight 93; On Doomed Flight, Passengers Vowed to Perish Fighting,” Jodi Wilgoren and Edward Wong (Vivian S. Toy contributed). New York Times: September 13, 2001.

September 11, 2001: The Global Response.

EDITORIAL: “Sorry, but America Has Itself to Blame,” an unnamed correspondent in Beijing. The Australian: September 13, 2001.

EDITORIAL: “Israel's War Is No Longer Its Alone,” Tom Rose. The Jerusalem Post: September 13, 2001.

EDITORIAL: “Terror in America: There Can Be No More Dancing on the Dead,” Said Ghazali. The Independent (London): September 13, 2001.

September 11, 2001: The World Reflects.

EDITORIAL: “Why We Still Don't Get It, One Year On: Americans Are Badly Served by Semi-Official Media Propaganda,” Mark Hertsgaard. The Guardian (London): September 11, 2002.

REPORT: “9/11 Widow Describes Flight Tape; In Response to a News Report, Deena Burnett Spoke About the Final Moments of Flight 93, Which Crashed in Pennsylvania,” Greg Gordon. Star Tribune (Minneapolis, MN): August 8, 2003.

FEATURE: “Two Years Later: World Opinion; Foreign Views of U.S. Darken After Sept. 11,” Richard Bernstein (Contributing to this report were James Brooke, Frank Bruni, Alan Cowell, Ian Fisher, Joseph Kahn, Clifford Krauss, Marc Lacey, Jane Perlez, Craig S. Smith and Michael Wines). The New York Times: September 11, 2003.

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