Are Newspaper Readers Intellectuals? [Archives:2000/36/Focus]

September 4 2000

Ismael Al-Ghabery
Yemen Times
How Publications Care to Meet Readers Needs?
Everyday a large number of local and foreign newspapers and magazines are published which readers eagerly rush upon to read, the question is what to read.
Are there any particular items they would like to read? A particular page or corner (column) or caricature or what.? We will try in the first place to review certain examples of readers to be acquainted with the topics they prefer to read or are interested in reading so that to issue our judgment on the types of reading.
Every morning distribution companies’ are seen travelling the streets to deliver copies of their publications to state institutions, bookstalls and bookshops to make them available for readers. Let us see now how readers behave towards these various publications. Some readers buy a good number of various publications. But what are the first pages they read? Perhaps some do not read the front page; on the contrary they prefer reading the back page of the newspaper. Some do read the front page while others give priority, for instance, to sports pages and so on. Selection of items for reading differs from one reader to another according to his/her inclination or taste.
Who is a Reader?
Let us ask ourselves who is a reader? Is he the person who goes through caricatures or who keeps turning page after page fancying the pictures on each page? Naturally every paper tries its best to deal with a variety of subjects. Some allot pages for local news, others feed us with world news, social, art or sports items. We read all these items everyday yet we ask ourselves; can all these materials satisfy a reader? Despite all what these pages offer we cannot deny the tireless efforts of publishers in helping us develop our intelligence.
The Good Reader
We may not be able to define whether a person is a good reader or not. We may see a person buying a large number of newspapers, magazines and books; but we cannot judge whether he will benefit from reading them and how much he will grasp the materials published in them. We can’t say that such a person is a good reader if there is no tangible outcome of the knowledge he acquires through reading. The lesson does not lie in continuous reading without any benefit. Little profit is greater than much careless reading. However there are persons who prefer certain pages to others in our local press. Let us take for example sport pages, read by majority of youths as these contain local and foreign athletic events. All sportsmen begin turning to sport pages without reading others owing to importance of sports to them. Some may turn to art pages as a fan of arts does. A small category may follow up society news with photos without seeing that there are important and useful interviews. However another small group may follow up political and world news on front pages sufficing it to reading the bold headlines without going deep in reading analyzes and events. These are the different groups whose methods of buying and reading are varied. If every person reads everything written in papers, he would realize the extent of the advantage he gains.
Journalists’ Role
Journalism has its own importance. It is not confined to relaying news or events but its tasks exceed to useful researches and purposeful interviews. A journalist goes here and there, with his camera and tape recorder, hunting objective news items in order to publish them as interesting pages which may satisfy his readers. An adventurous type journalist could be a welcome to some dignitaries or celebrities but a paparazzi type of journalists may find himself thrown out in the street. It is these efforts which make us read literary, ideological, scientific and other topics throughout the days of the week. All in all, we read and read and read; but do we try to grasp and absorb everything to improve our knowledge?
Reading publications and periodicals is culture; but tens of thousands of readers should not mean that we have tens of thousands of intellectuals.