It's easy to think of a newspaper as simply a collection of articles printed on paper, with a few images here and there. We pick it up and we read, and nothing more need be known. For those who spend time writing for or producing newspapers, however, each one is made up of many specific components, each with their own distinct name. To a newcomer in the newspaper business, these terms can seem foreign and confusing, but if you just take a few quick moments for study you'll soon be mastering the basics of newspaper anatomy.
There are several types of articles in most newspapers.
- Usually you can find local news articles, which cover events in your town or city, national news articles, which focus on events that are of interest to the greater United States, and international news articles, which are events that carry import across national borders.
- Feature articles are pieces with entertainment or human interest value.
- You will also commonly find editorials, which are informed by the author's opinion, and columns, which are articles on the author's topic of interest written by the same author on a regular basis.
Each article is itself made up of several components.
- Most notably, there's the headline, which appears in a large, usually bold, typeface and sums up the following article.
- Below the headline you can find the byline, which identifies the author of the article.
- The first paragraph of the article is known as the lead, and it should convey the main points of the article while grabbing the reader's attention.
Throughout the paper you'll find:
- The 'art,' which is any photo, graph, map or illustration that either stands alone or is associated with a given article.
- Another important component of any newspaper is the advertising. Ads can take up an entire page or section of the paper, or they can be small and inset with article text on the page. Ads help newspapers—even those you pay for—to generate revenue and stay in operation.
Finally, newspapers are usually divided into sections based on article types. A typical newspaper will contain:
- A front page of the most important headlines and articles
- An international section
- A national section
- A local section
- An entertainment section
- A sports section
- A classified section, where readers can place advertisements for job openings, sales, or personal connections.
Those are the basics! Next time you pick up the paper, think back on all of the various components that make up the whole. With your newly trained eye, you'll be navigating your Sunday paper like a pro.