Nowadays, when all are more or less educated, almost everybody reads some daily paper or other. A man who never reads a newspaper cannot keep in touch with the times. We have to know something of what is going on in the world, not only for our own satisfaction but also to be able to converse intelligently with our fellows.
And there are, in every country, plenty of newspapers of all kinds to satisfy the most omnivorous reader. In fact, the danger is, not that people should not read the newspapers, but lest they should spend more time in newspaper reading than it is worth.
As its name implies, the primary business of a newspaper is to give us news. That is what we look for first in our morning paper. What is the news of that day? What has been happening at home? What has been happening in other countries? In the paper we find the latest news of political doings and movements; or, if we are interested in sport, the results of cricket, football, hockey and tennis matches; and of the popular horse races, motor races, cycle races, and so on.
Some have a taste for police news, and read the accounts of crimes, the capture of criminals and law-court trials. In these days, too, we turn eagerly to the news about foreign powers and the present international situation, and debate on the urgent questions of peace and war. Film fans read the news about their favorite film stars, and the latest pictures to be produced. People with different tastes look for different kinds of news in their newspapers.
But a good newspaper gives us much more than mere news. We read it on political, social and other matters. And here we must be careful. Reading the news is one thing; but reading a paper’s comments on the news, and its opinions on political and social questions, is another. We must not accept all it says as gospel, but must sift it for ourselves.
The great majority of newspaper readers are uncritical. Only a few think for themselves, and form their own opinions. This is a great mistake. We must learn to think and criticize, and refuse to take our opinions ready made from our favorite newspaper. As Bacon says: “Read not to contradict and confute, nor to believe and take for granted, but to weigh and consider.”