A Study of American Newspaper Readability

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This paper is based on a study of American newspaper readability in metropolitan and non-metropolitan areas.The results indicated that there was a significant difference between front page readability level of metropolitan and non-metropolitan newspapers. There was a significant difference in readability level between metropolitan and non-metropolitan newspaper articles. With the exception of the local news, the non-metropolitan means were higher for each of these classifications.There was no significant difference between metropolitan and non-metro-politan Associated Press articles. However, there was a significant difference between United Press International metropolitan and non-metropolitan articles. United Press International articles in non-metropolitan papers were more difficult to read.

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... K. Bock, 1986; K. Bock, Dell, Chang, & Onishi, 2007;). While the laboratory settings for most studies may limit the applicability of Vol. 7, No. 3; 2016 Published by Sciedu Press 72 ISSN 1923-4007 E-ISSN 1923their findings to our understanding of long-term effects, at least one study has documented the effects of synchrony over long periods through correspondence between writers (Ireland & Pennebaker, 2010). Nevertheless, even these findings reflect increases and sharp declines in synchrony based on the writers' emotional attitudes toward one another, rather than the influence of even the more seasoned or renowned writer on the junior (Ireland & Pennebaker, 2010). ...
... Reading materials, even within a single publication, can vary significantly in syntactic complexity, even within syndicated newspapers, which, in the US, aim to make all articles comprehensible to adults with a fifth-grade education. Nevertheless, even in breaking news coverage, articles containing international news are more challenging to readers than articles covering domestic news (Raze, 1969). Moreover, other types of articles—lifestyle features and science-focused coverage—differ significantly in readability from news articles (Abdelmutti & Hoffman-Goetz, 2009). ...
Increasingly, schools and colleges of business focus on the quality of their students' writing, reflecting complaints from business and industry about the quality of writing of entry-level employees. These concerns about student writing have led to some changes in the curricula and admittance of students into graduate programs, including analytical writing essays on the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT). However, research also suggests that reading content and frequency may exert more significant impacts on students' writing than writing instruction and frequency. This study surveyed a cohort of MBA students on their regular reading content and sampled their writing. We then used algorithm-based software to assess the syntactic complexity of both reading content and writing samples. Our findings reveal strong correlations between students' most common reading content and their writing on widely-used measures of writing sophistication: mean sentence length and mean clause length. Several mechanisms may account for the dramatic influence exerted by reading content on mature students' writing—including synchrony, priming, and implicit learning. But, irrespective of these mechanisms, undergraduate and graduate programs in business should emphasize ongoing reading of syntactically complex content both during and after students' schooling to address the sophistication of their writing.
... Many educators may shy away from assigning even books written by well-regarded researchers, drawing from their own peer-reviewed research, viewing best-selling books as hewing too closely to "pop" sensibilities-as one colleague labeled Daniel Kahneman's Thinking, Fast and Slow, despite the book's foundations in the academic articles that won Kahneman the Nobel Prize in Economics (Kahneman, 2011). As a result, our students' and graduates' writing may reflect the poorly-edited, jargon-ridden sentences of textbooks that focus on quantitative-based research or the simplified prose of many business communication textbooks, which seek to meet the readability standards common to syndicated newspapers (Raze, 1969). Ironically, the reading fodder we supply most frequently to our students may more closely resemble the simplified sentences our students also read on BuzzFeed and Tumblr than the sentences they would encounter in, say, The Big Short (Lewis, 2010) (Shwom & Snyder, 2016) offers significantly lower lexical and syntactic complexity: Lexile, 790; MLS, 10.4667; MLC, 11.2143; CN/T, 1.125. ...
This study solicited a cohort of graduate students, aged 23-42, to identify their most frequently-read sources, including online content, newspapers, news magazines, genre and “literary” fiction, and general non-fiction. We analyzed text samples from sources and students’ writing, using the Lexile® framework and software that computes 14 features of syntactic complexity. This study validates the accuracy of the Lexile® framework, based on more granular measures of syntactic complexity than the mean sentence length Lexile uses as part of its scoring mechanism. More significantly, this study found strong correlations between lexical and syntactic complexity of student reading materials and students’ writing.
Regulations to implement the National Environmental Policy Act state that environmental impact statements shall be written in plain language. Federal land management agencies operate under this guideline when they prepare plans for their lands. We examined 23 agency plans, using the Flesch Reading Ease Scale, to determine if they met this criterion. The scores show that the plans are written for people with three to six years of college education, far beyond the reading ability of the average person. The results suggest that the plans may limit or bias who participates in agency planning. National policy on the readability of the plans needs to be clarified, and agencies need to evaluate, and defend or revise, their writing programs.
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