All newspapers devote an entire page to sports news. Sports are an important part of national and international news. However, just because newspapers are giving huge space to sports does not mean that you should consider them very important. Just glance once at those sports those are important at a national and international level. In any case news about sports of this level makes front page news. If you are interested in sports, it is a different matter; otherwise you don't have to give sports news that much importance. But if there is an editorial article or commentary about any sport then it is as important to you as any other editorial article. Also, if the government announces a policy related to sports or if there is a new report or the courts give a verdict related to sports, you should pay attention to the news items.
The same rule applies to awards. You don't have to focus on small awards. Do not fall into the trap of trying to learn about all important personalities. If you do this, you will just be crowding your mind with facts which is not required.
Science and environment are very important subjects. Usually they do not make front page news. You will have to look for news items related to these in the inner pages. If you find some, read carefully.
National newspapers give some space to news from various states as well. These are, of course, important news. You should focus on news related to your state; it will help you during your interview. As far as news from other states is concerned you can give it a quick glance. In any case, if there is some important incident in any state, it gets published in the front page.
The last thing I want to tell you regarding newspapers is that you should quickly go through the entire paper once. At least check out the headlines. This will help you get an idea of what is happening around the world - even In your own neigh bourhood.
How should you read the newspaper?
I have come across strange experiences of news paper readers. In one instance, a reader reads something and says something else. In another instance they have not read the newspaper but claim about something that they read it in the newspaper. Sometimes the reader will read something in the newspaper but claim "I did not read anything like that". Those who are reading more than one newspapers wrongly attribute news items to the newspapers. There are few who are not sure of the plain facts in big and bold letters either. This is a problem because readers do not take this seriously. This might not harmful for other readers, but this cannot be the case with you. If the contribution of newspapers in IAS exam was only 15-20 percent it would have been ok. But here the role is three-fourth so you have to take newspapers very seriously.
This is the first step in how to read the newspaper. You have to change your psychology. Our brain has the special ability to prepare itself according to the signals you send it. If newspapers are just an obligatory task for you then that is how your brain will react to it. But if you take the newspaper reading seriously, your brain will act like an obedient slave and absorb information seriously. I have already told you how to read the editorial commentary. The art of reading editorial commentary is the core of the art of reading newspapers. You can even spend 50 minutes on the editorial commentary which usually takes only five minutes to read - but only if you spend time thinking about what is being said and try to understand the contexts. Editorial commentary requires you to analyse and think about what you have read rather than just reading it with concentration. More you do it; more will be revealed to you.
Now I will give you some pointers that will help improve your newspaper reading:
(a) I have already told you which pages of a newspaper to focus upon and which news items to read. Also, that you have to give a quick glance to the rest of the news, except editorial article and commentary. However, this does not apply to a business newspaper. All news items in a business newspaper are important in their own way and you have to treat them equally.
(b) You don't have to just read the newspaper, you have to analyse it. So when you read the newspaper, you should be holding a pen so that you can underline the important parts. When you underline them on paper they also get underlined in our brains, meaning the images formed in our minds are darkened. It also helps while revising. Why am I putting so much emphasis on it? You read a book multiple times and they last you for years but newspapers are a daily affair and everyday there is something new. This way the newspapers pose a challenge - how to store all this information in our mind? You can solve this problem by underlining things. I have experimented with this which is why I'm telling you to do this. However, underline only keywords from important news that you need to remember.
(c) Also, you should keep clippings of important editorial articles and editorial commentaries. But you do not need to keep a thick file of newspaper clippings; you should only choose the most important ones. Do not forget to underline the important bits and keep going through them once in a while. You will find that after a few months, articles which you once thought were important now appear to be old and unimportant. If you do not discard them time to time they will increase the garbage on your desk as well as burden on your mind.
(d) Keep a separate diary for newspapers. When you come across an important fact jot it down. I'm not asking you to write down the news, only facts. When I say facts I mean a statement by an important personality, important new statistics, important names, reports etc. Do not include too much here either, else it won't be of any use.
(e) If there is such a context in a news item which you do not know about, do not be lazy. Try to know the context first and then read the news. I already have told you much about it.
(f) Any important event occurs at a certain geographical place, so every time something important happens you should look up the region in a map. If you keep doing this for three months you will obtain miraculous knowledge of geographical locations.
(g) After you finish reading the newspaper, think for 15 minutes about what you read. Do not be under the illusion that everything was easy and you remember everything. This is correct if you are talking only about today, but not if you are talking about a month. These 15 minutes will help solidify the 90 minutes you spent reading the newspaper. Try to save these 15 minutes and you will lose those 90 minutes as well.
(h) I mentioned earlier about noting down important facts. It was related to statistics and statements. Now I will talk about some other stuff. Many students ask me if they should make notes. I don't know what they mean by making notes. If by this they mean jotting down important points from newspapers, my answer would be yes. The biggest benefit of this would be that you would have a collection of important facts. You will not have to go through magazines again and again. This will save you time and prevent a messed-up situation in your mind. Your viewpoint towards the subject will also become very clear. I want to assure you once again that to score well in general knowledge you don't need to know too many facts. The most important thing here is how you use the facts that you do know. If you keep noting down and revising important news from newspapers for a year, you will find the general knowledge question papers in the mains exam quite easy. But you have to continuously revise and keep practicing how to use the facts you have learned in your answers. I don't think it is too much to ask for a prestigious exam like IAS.
I will now give you some details that will help you understand precisely what you need from newspapers. I would also suggest you keep reading unsolved question papers from the mains exam as well as preliminary exam. It will guide you in what to study else you may lose focus.
Here are some of the things you should focus on –
- I New schemes and policies announced by the government, especially those related to rural development, poverty, health, education and those associated with social development.
- Latest information related to the economy such as changing economical scenario, budget and things related to industry and agriculture.
- Important facts related to the constitution.
- Reports presented by the government and other agencies which directly impact policy making.
- Events related to administration- specially those showing its efficiency.
- New scientific discoveries, especially advances in the field of information sector, space, biotechnology and medicine.
- Things that have to do with natural disaster management.
- Environmental problems and their solutions.
I want to warn you again that do not fall into the trap of trying to note down too many things. You have to only focus on important things even if you miss out on few other important things.
I believe that after everything I have told you about newspapers, it must have broken your illusion about newspaper reading. This is just the beginning. We have only talked about it theoretically. When you actually implement everything I said you will find that things have become clearer.