What Are the Functions of a Newspaper?

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Businessman reading a newspaper.
Businessman reading a newspaper. (Image: Digital Vision./Photodisc/Getty Images)

Newspapers are publications that come out at regular intervals -- usually daily -- and provide news and information to the readers. They are printed on cheap paper known as newsprint and are normally relatively inexpensive. They are funded by the price of purchase, paid subscriptions and advertising that is printed within its pages. The earliest ancestors of newspapers were governmental bulletins and information sheets or notices from ancient Roman and Chinese times. However, the modern newspaper did not appear until the 19th century with the onset of the industrial revolution.

Inform

One of the primary functions of a newspaper is to inform its readership. This is usually in the form of the daily happenings from the local area, on a nationwide basis and internationally. A newspaper often employs journalists to gather information about events, or they pay other publications to print their stories. These stories help inform readers as to what is going on in their communities, their country and in the wider world.

Advise

Newspapers also offer guidance and opinion to help shape people’s view on certain subjects or matters. As an extension to merely reporting the facts of a matter, newspapers often have editorial or opinion pieces which attempt to interpret events and offer new angles and implications about their occurrence. Here may also be reviews and opinions on sports matters and commentary on personalities, theater or cinema offerings and comments and opinions on life in general.

Practical

Newspapers also have a practical function, which is to assist readers with their daily lives. They publish a wealth of useful information of a practical nature that helps people go about their daily business. Items such as weather forecasts, shipping news, classified advertising, sporting schedules, television schedules and theater and cinema listings are examples of this.They also publish news of importance to a community, such as wedding notices, birth and deaths. Newspapers also offer a historical and archival record of past events and local happenings.

Entertain

Newspapers also seek to offer a diversion and simply entertain. To this end, many newspapers will publish crosswords, games and puzzles. Many feature cartoon strips and humorous writings. Gossip columns, the happenings of celebrities and society pages also seek merely to entertain the reader. And many newspapers offer leisure pages and advice on what to do for weekends, or where to go on vacations.

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