Do You Read Past the Headlines Anymore?

Since the dawn of the Internet (long ago when Al Gore created it), the ability to get information quickly has mesmerized us.

Even when we sat there waiting for AOL to just please get past step 4… because we knew it was the gateway to step 7, with the phone line screaming through the static… we couldn’t wait to hear, “You’ve Got Mail!”

flickr reading in the sun ed yourdon

If you’re like me, you probably remember your dad or grandpa sitting down with the newspaper in the morning, browsing the topics and learning about the world around them. While you (if like me) picked up the comics. As the Internet grew more popular and (alas!) cable Internet came out– it was game over. There was no turning back.

Fast forward a bit, and we have what you see today: quick blurbs about stories on Twitter with a link attached, main points summarized on Facebook or Google+, words turning into pictures, newspapers online along with broadcast media websites that you can click where you want to find just what you need.

technorati ap

If you studied communications or journalism, you learned to write in AP Style, so you know that you essentially write the main idea right there in the headlines. I knew this, and I found myself reading headlines on Twitter or other websites and scrolling to the next. I would open numerous articles but read until I got the point and move on.

So this got me thinking, I wonder how many people do this? Do you even read past the headlines? Past the first couple of paragraphs?

I read through the articles that truly interest me, but I’m guilty of article neglect. I’ve always noticed that people who read more have an advantage. They spend a lot of time absorbing knowledge or stories through the eyes of others that their brain is opened to ideas outside of their own.

So in a sense, this is a call to action. You don’t have to read every article you come across, but take the time to follow through so the writer can make their point when you do find an article you like. Absorb knowledge like a sponge. Spend 10-15 minutes a day (if that’s all you have) to browse your favorite websites– outside of social media– to learn something new.

A lot of times, I read articles because I have a brand new interest in the subject. It’s amazing what you can learn from those who have experience in the area you want to learn about. Pick their brains. Re-purpose what you learn. Apply it to your life.

Do you do this too? Do you skim headlines to get the main point and move on? Do you read the first few paragraphs and ditch the article? Do you read every article all the way through? Let’s see how we all match up.

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5 thoughts on “Do You Read Past the Headlines Anymore?

  1. I tend to read through entire articles, often falling into an article “black hole” (where one article links to another, which links to another, and suddenly I forgot where I started.)

    I think my bigger problem is that my news sources are so narrow. Essentially, I read through the Houston Press, the New York Times, The Verge, and that’s it. Not a whole lot of variety, and more importantly, not a whole lot of different viewpoints.

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  2. Jose– thanks for reading and it’s good to hear from you!

    I do the same with jumping to articles, but sometimes grab the main idea and move on.

    You made a great point about news sources though– I think some of us tend to do the ‘one stop shop’ when it comes to getting our news. It’s amazing how we get to pick our favorites and think of the rest as obsolete or not worth our time. I’m guilty of that, too!

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  3. As a religious user of Feedly — following the demise of Google Reader — I often skim through the headlines to see what grabs my attention and which posts will be worth reading.

    I subscribe to many blogs so posts that have a headline that is short, concise and straight to the point is important to me.

    I sometimes get into the habit of reading certain posts based on the headlines alone that I really shouldn’t be reading because it isn’t necessarily relevant to me. Sometimes, attention-grabbing headlines are there to waste your time; it can also be to your benefit as well.

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