ERIC Number: ED181476
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1979-Aug
Reference Count: 0
The Comparative Readability of Newspapers and Magazines Over Time: An Evaluation of Media Acceptability.
Fowler, Gilbert L., Jr.; Smith, Edward J.
A comparative-historical perspective was used in analyzing the readabilities of three newspapers and three magazines. A total of 270 100-word samples were collected from the Chicago "Tribune," the New York "Times," the Memphis "Commercial Appeal,""Cosmopolitan,""Atlantic Monthly," and "Harper's Weekly." All these media were published during the three sampled time periods--1904, 1933, and 1965. The Flesch readability formula showed that the three newspapers were significantly less readable than the magazines across all time periods. The readability of the magazines corresponded to a level at which some high school education would be needed to understand the material. No significant differences between magazines were found across time periods. Newspapers, however, were found to vary between sample periods; they were more difficult to read in 1933 than in 1904 or 1965. The newspaper readability levels corresponded to a "difficult" classification on the Flesch scale, with estimates that some college would be necessary to understand the material. The findings indicated that the newspaper is as readable today as it was in 1904, although the complexity of the language used has increased. (RL)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Association for Education in Journalism (62nd, Houston, TX, August 5-8, 1979)