Growing up I always thought I was too young to understand what was written in the newspaper. I thought that reading anything in print that was not a required text-book was not something I would do until I was in my early twenties. If I would have known that many of these articles are written for readers who read at a sixth grade level, maybe I would have picked up a paper and given it a chance.
The idea of writing at such a young grade level is so that print media can relate to a larger scope of people. I thought this was odd because journalist are professionals with degrees in their fields that go way beyond a sixth grade level.
In a book by Philip Meyer called Reading The Vanishing Newspaper, he writes about writing readability and a study he did on various newspapers and their writing readability levels in the chapter titled Readability. He discovered that newspapers which wrote at a much lower reading level than that which was expected of its community ranked the highest in readership. “… the dumber the writing, the higher the readership,” stated Meyers. The reading level of the top ranked news paper was at a fifth grade level.
News papers and other print media often use what is known as the Flesch- Kincaid Readability Test. It is a test that calculates the grade level at which an article is written. There are now many sites that provide instructions on how to install this test within your word program on any computer. The test consists of an equation that results in a point scale to tell you what level you are writing at.
I was so surprised to see what scores some articles had and also that many newspapers and people have adapted this tool. Is this something that everyone knows about? I scored this blog and I scored a 9.6.
What grade level are you writing at? What level would you like to write at? Are you OK with the idea that the news we are reading is at such a low-level?