How To Read Newspaper

How To Read Newspaper

CASE Studies Module

CASE Studies Module 2018 Programme Highlights Classes will be taken by Mr. Atul Garg, renowned author of Arihant’s Paper-IV book- Ethics,


“A good newspaper is a nation talking to itself.”-Arthur Miller

It is beyond doubt that newspaper reading has become an indispensable part of preparation towards Civil Services Examination (CSE). It is said that a person can be considered as educated only if he can comprehend each and every news item given in the newspaper of that day. UPSC certainly seems to look for such educated men/women among lakhs of aspirants who try to become civil servant every year.

However, there are certain questions which if answered can help the candidates to make optimum utilization of newspapers in boosting their scores. An attempt has been made below to answer these questions:

Why is it important to read the newspaper?

Current affairs are the most important aspect of CSE, at all three stages (Preliminary, Mains and Interview). Perhaps nothing could explain this in better way than the UPSC does in its syllabus, which says that-

“Candidates are expected to have taken an intelligent interest not only in their special subjects of academic study but also in the events which are happening around them both within and outside their own state or country as well as in modern currents of thought and in new discoveries which should rouse the curiosity of well educated youth.”

Newspapers are the richest source of facts and analysis, which are needed or can be used (for innovation and novelty) to answer questions of CSE. Even a static question of history or geography can be answered innovatively by using some observation of a current event. For example:

The question though seems to be static has a clear connection with recent events and assertion that El- Nino affects, but not always, the unusual climatic happenings; especially in context of India. Thus, a newspaper can provide candidates with:

  • Analysis
  • Perspectives
  • Linkages among different issues
  • Stimuli to innovate and ability to come up with novel ideas

Should I read newspaper or magazine or both?

The nature of CSE has evolved over a period of time and present trend makes newspaper reading a necessity which cannot be substituted by any other source like monthly magazines or readymade notes available in the market. These other sources must be used to compliment newspapers rather than substituting them. A candidate who gives 1-2 hours daily on newspapers will always have an edge of 5-8 questions in Preliminary Examination and 3-5 questions in Mains Examination over those candidates who avoid reading newspaper. The magazines or readymade notes must be used to cover what has been left. Magazines like Yojana, EPW and Kurukshetra must be read selectively. A candidate today does not need hard work but intelligent work to succeed in CSE. They should not only know ‘What to read’ but also ‘What not to read’.

Which newspaper/s to go for?

Though every national level newspaper has something good and different about it, yet there are some which are specifically good for CSE preparation. Two of them are:

  • The Indian Express is known for its investigative journalism and news analysis which can provide candidates with new perspectives. It has various sections like ‘Governance’ and ‘Explained’ which are of immense help to the students in conceptual understanding and linkages to the syllabus.

Note: Newspapers like The Economic Times, The Statesman and Times of India also publish some good articles for Civil Services Examination. But due to paucity of time, students are not able to read them. Orient IAS has taken the initiative to compile these articles (this will also include articles from Yojana, EPW and Kurukshetra) and provide them to students who are enrolled in 360° PGP™.

Should I read one newspaper or more?

Two newspapers can be taken on daily basis. Candidates must read first newspaper comprehensively and second newspaper selectively. For example, candidates can subscribe for The Hindu and Indian Express. They shall start with The Hindu and avoid repetitive news while reading Indian Express.

Which news is important and how it can be connected to the syllabus of UPSC?

The importance of news doesn’t lay in the news itself, but how you perceive it and connect to the syllabus. The present nature of the examination is such that it makes all the news important. For example, even an article on review or critique of an event can be helpful as it teaches you how to critically analyze certain event. Sometimes, it even gives you content for your essay. Infact any article shall not only be read for getting content but also to get good presentation and organization.
Many news do not look very important on the face but can be used effectively in the exam. For example, recent news of Nepali women rescued by police from the house of Saudi Arabia diplomat stationed in India may not have direct relevance from exam point of view. But it raises serious questions over diplomatic immunity and ethics in international relations which is the part of GS Paper IV syllabus. It can also be viewed from the context of ethical dilemma for Delhi police and government.
Yet, an attempt has been made in the table given below about various subjects and important (and also not important) news related to them from newspapers.

Subject Important News Not Much Relevant
Administration/ Polity
  • News regarding various policies, administrative reforms etc. by government through Press release.
  • Various bills, minutes of Cabinet meetings.
  • Advertisements given by government for new projects and achievements.
  • Election related news like initiatives taken by Election commission to curb criminalization of politics.
  • Various judgments of Supreme Court (some facts and more analysis)
  • Press conferences of political parties and civil society.
  • Scams and corruption cases. You just need a brief highlight so that you can use it as an example in exam.
  • News related to by-elections and minute details regarding various political parties.
National News
  • Larger picture of incidents like arrest of people for Facebook post and section 66A of IT act 2000.
  • Parliament sessions and legislations in socio-cultural context.
  • Railway accidents and casualties are not important but reasons for accidents and suggestions for future are important.
  • Salman Khan hit and run case.
  • Bashing by Political parties at each other.
  • Visit of politicians, film stars etc.
State News
  • Such news must be prepared taking into account the long term goal of interview. Cuttings can be taken so that state related content will be available during interview time.
  • States HDI and other indicators.
  • Problems of state government and society.
  • Health, education, poverty, employment statistics of state etc. are important
  • Crime related news. Just need to have a general perspective.
  • State level politics
  • Local Events.
International/ Bilateral
  • Bilateral visits of prime ministers and related details
  • Happenings in world institutions like UN, WTO, World Bank
  • Elections in the big nations like USA, Russia, China, France and UK, but without going into much detail.
  • Major events like democratic uprising in Middle East, Israel- Palestine, US vs. China etc.
  • Meetings of organizations such as ASEAN, G20 etc, and India’s role.
  • How many people killed in a car bomb blast in Iraq or Afghanistan?
  • Anything news which don’t affect India or world in long term perspective. For example sex-scandals of Italian PM or life style of Putin.
  • What’s happening in Hollywood
Science & Technology
  • Scientific breakthroughs in science like ISRO satellites launch.
  • Science and Tech related news for example CERN, DRDO.
  • China’s space program, missile tests by North Korea, Iran’s nuke program and so on.
  • Too much technical details of new discoveries
  • For example, candidates shall only have a brief idea of Nobel Prize and latest winners without going into minute details.
  • News like researchers finding out that people working in night are more creative is of no importance.
Environment And Ecology
  • Climate change, environment related news in larger context.
  • Natural disasters and their analysis.
  • International conferences and India’s role.
  • Discovery of new species until it is not very significant.
  • Data which the candidates will never be able to reproduce in the exam. Like too much details of Mullaiperiyar Dam controversy which The Hindu newspaper is dragging for long time is not important.
  • Information released by Ministry of Finance, SEBI, RBI, NITI Aayog etc.
  • Reports of various commissions.
  • Suggestions given by institutions like ASSOCHAM, NASSCOM etc.
  • IIP, GDP, WPI, CPI etc. related data which can help in analysis.
  • International: ASEAN, World Bank, EU etc.
  • Names of Chairmen of various companies and banks.
  • Sales of cars not important but how they are contributing to climate change is important.
  • Daily fluctuations of share market.
  • Quarterly data of RBI not important. One can quote data from latest budget or economic survey even if it is 6-8 months old.

Note:The above table is not exhaustive and it is given just for an idea to judge what candidates should look for in the newspaper.

How to handle the large amount of facts and analysis, which newspapers provide on daily basis?

The first thing to do is to memorize your syllabus thoroughly. 2-3 registers shall then be maintained each divided into different sections like national news, international news, internal security etc. according to the syllabus of CSE. The cuttings and handwritten notes shall be organized in these registers only.

There are three methods of compiling huge amount of data coming from newspapers on daily basis:

  • Newspaper cuttings with important points underlined.
  • Infographics in newspapers which summaries the whole news in one diagram or picture.

The candidates shall make use of all these tools while maintaining a judicious balance between them. The news items which have only 20-50% important content shall be converted into hand written notes. This activity has 3 benefits:

  • Daily practice of writing will be done
  • Candidates will learn the art of writing many things in few words.

Cuttings from newspaper shall only be done when news item contains more than 50% of important content or is highly analytical in nature. Candidates must remember that too many cuttings will be hard to manage during revision time. Infographics are very important and must be taken out from newspapers.

Should I make my own notes or can rely on notes made by my friends/roommate?

Making your own notes is always better than relying on others notes, largely due to the benefits mentioned earlier. CSE today is current oriented which makes continuous updating of notes, a necessity.

What are the priority areas in a newspaper?

Though all areas are important, yet one can say that the weakest area of a candidate shall be his priority in the newspaper. More and more reading will give him confidence and conceptual understanding required to have a strong command over any subject.

What is the importance of language in newspaper?

In competitive exams, apart from command over facts and opinions, one should also have a good command on language to express that knowledge. Good newspapers use standard and lucid language; the sentence structure and flow are very apt, grammatical mistakes are minimum, and vocabulary used is rich, especially in the editorials. Thus, newspapers help in improving language and comprehension too.
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Team Orient IAS

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