You Gotta Read This

By Louis R. Avallone

An average headline is probably only six to 10 words in length, while the average news story is as many as 1,000 words in length. Surprisingly though, only one-half will ever read the news story, at all, beyond the headline.

Armed with this knowledge, is there really any question as to why so many are so misinformed about the news? I mean, how can anyone glean the important details of a news story, by only reading a 10-word headline?

You can’t. But they try, anyways.

And so we lament how our fellow Americans know so little about what is going on in their own community, not to mention in Washington, DC.

And when you factor in headlines that were seemingly written intentionally by the mainstream media-elites to mislead or confuse us, you’ve got a mess on your hands. This is because the continuing decline of reading skills threatens our very existence as a country, and our individual lives as free men and women. Is that too dramatic?

I don’t think so, considering that more than one-half of the people in our country are only consuming their news via headlines, and not from much else. How can they ever be informed on complex issues, much less cast their votes to address those issues, in the first place – if most don’t read past the headlines?

You see, we’ve become a nation of scanners – not readers. No question. We screen every incoming email message or Facebook post for relevance and importance, and if we decide to read it, we usually stop reading once we think we’ve gotten the gist, and then we move on, without going any deeper.

We do this because we want to know what’s going on, but we end up just reading only summaries of the news, or the headlines, because too many are too lazy, or too busy, to do the work themselves, and read the story all the way through.

In fact, a recent study found that 60% of the links your friends share on social media have never actually been read by your friends. That’s right: Most people share news and articles without ever reading them, at all.

This may earn them attention from their friends for what they are sharing, but they are also teaching their brains to overlook the details, and to read with half their focus, instead. This has resulted in our attention spans being at an all-time low, with 50% of adults who cannot even read a book written at an eighth grade level, and over 44 million adults are now unable to read a simple story to their children.

We know this about reading: 3 out of 4 people on welfare cannot read. 3 out of 5 people in American prisons cannot read. Almost all juvenile offenders have difficulty reading. More than one-half of American adults have an income well below the poverty level because of their inability to read.

And while illiteracy doesn’t breed illiteracy, it does it make it more likely that children of illiterates will lack the reading skills needed to break the cycle of poverty and incarceration, or to have a basic understanding of what America is, and what she represents.

How long can our country remain strong when over one-half of the population cannot read at the same grade level as the other half?

So if you have read this far, congratulations. And the next time you are at your favorite restaurant, or at the gym, and the televisions all along the wall are tuned to various news channels with the volume muted, just remember those headlines are what 50% of Americans consider their “news” for the day.

And there’s just not a good headline for that.

Related posts: