How to Read Newspapers

"A newspaper is a circulating library with high blood pressure"
The quantum of news and opinions available in a newspaper is more than normal. It is difficult for a normal mind to digest all the news available there. So it becomes pertinent to decide the purpose of reading a newspaper which would ultimately help you in selecting the news relevant for you. To put things in context I would like to quote Michael Pena.

"I grew up reading the newspaper, mostly the sports section. I was a wrestler and I will check to see if I was ranked."

What should be the purpose of reading newspapers for UPSC aspirants?

UPSC CSE Examination as well as the job profile therefore demands you to be aware about the issues of national and international importance and which has bearing on the life of common citizens. In a welfare state like India, bureaucrats are working for the welfare of people and betterment of society. So, this exam is looking for problem solvers and agents of change and therefore the purpose of reading newspaper should be:-

● Awareness
● Understanding issues
● Identifying problems and challenges
● Exploring solutions
● Setting goals for future

How to select news?

The best guide who will help you in selecting the news that you should specifically read is the UPSC CSE Syllabus. It gives you the dimension of issues you need to be aware of. Proper understanding of the syllabus will help you in connecting news with static parts. While understanding the dynamic topics like environmental issues, economic issues, development in science and technology, international relations etc. will directly steer you to the relevant news.

How to approach the news?

Based on the events and their impact on the society, news should be categorised and different approaches should be applied for them:


● Incidence
● Initiative, national or international
● Reforms
● Rolling issues
● Matters in offing


Those issues which happen suddenly are called incidence .The first step for this type of news is to analyse the impact that is temporal as well as special impact. In case if it has long term impact in large area, then it should be given special importance and treated accordingly.


● Cause or background should be identified with details of events
● Impact of events on various dimension like social, economic ,political, environmental etc. should be analysed
● Look for instant, intermediate ,and long term solutions
● Look for the role of citizens, administration, NGOs, political setup and international bodies

National and international initiatives

These are schemes, programs, policy, plan campaigns, drives etc. started by Government, NGOs, and international organisations.


● Details of initiative
● Institution involved
● Reason for that initiative or some study reports
● Target group or sectors
● Financial supports or man power support to implement that initiative
● Anticipated goal and target
● Timeline if any
● Track the progress and analyse the gap
● Identify the bottleneck or challenges
● Suggest solutions or steps for improvement


Paradigm change in social, economic or political sphere


● Need of the reforms
● Detail of the reforms
● Problems with existing situation
● Related changes in law and constitution
● Anticipated goal
● Keep track of progress or impact of reforms
● Analyse the progress
● Analyse the bottleneck or challenges in the way of implementation
● Suggest the solution for the same

Rolling issues

Those issues which are evolving with time and going to be in the news for a long period of time are called rolling issues like climate change, water crisis , geopolitical issues etc.


● Genesis
● Details of the issue
● Dimensions and stakeholders
● Present condition
● Steps taken in that context
● Keep track of progress
● Way forward

Matters in offing

Those matters which are not the matter of concern in the present time but have potential to get bigger and more important in future are called matters in offing. Space debris, mass extinction, emerging technology etc. are the examples.


● Detail of the issue
● Genesis
● Present condition
● Anticipated impact
● Necessary steps
● Present response
● Way forward

You may not get everything in the Newspaper and here comes the role of the Internet. You can use Google to explore all dimensions of the issue and make an organised and structured notes and then eave space to incorporate the development.

Editorials and opinions should be read for enriching your knowledge and understanding of the issue.

However one must not be carried away by the views of the articles. You must try to know and understand each and every aspect of the issue before jumping to conclusions. Gandhi's quote is the guiding principle in this context.

"Newspapers should be read for the study of facts. They should not be allowed to kill the habit of independent thinking."

Written By -

Manish Kumar
Faculty RICE IAS