These topics can include political events, crime, sports, opinion, weather, and many more. Newspapers have also been developed around very narrow topic areas, such as news for merchants in a specific industry, fans of particular sports, fans of the arts or of specific artists, and participants in the same sorts of activities or lifestyles.
Newspapers can fund themselves directly by the sale to individuals purchasers, but usually they receive additional income from donation, sponsorship, or advertising. In the latter arrangement, the newspaper makes a reciprocal agreement with a paying advertiser that allows the advertiser to place a message in the newspaper encouraging the reader to purchase their product or service. (See Advertising) In this sort of newspaper (called a commercial newspaper), the portion of the newspaper that is not advertising is called editorial content.
Since newspapers began as a way to journal, or keep a record of, current events, the profession which is involved in the making of newpapers began to be called journalism. Much emphasis has been placed upon the value of the journalist to be accurate and fair in the historical record. (See Ethics). On the other hand, it speaks well of the profession that these principles could just as easily have been abandoned long ago.
Ironically, recent criticism of American journalism appearing in the early 00s, includes that which says newspapers are too unbiased; that by presenting only bland fact, and being overly cautious never to never make inferences from patterns of past events, newspapers abandon the true story in exchange for an extremely shallow he said, she said (See Idioms:He said, she said) sort of story. Recently, several alternative news sources, most notoriously on the Internet, have sprung up in order to offset this amnesiac method of reporting.
It was not long after criticism of the increasingly concentrated corporate ownership of newspapers began being heard on the Internet that Michael K. Powell, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission proposed sweeping new rules. This was in the long, hot Summer of 2003. Public reaction to the media ownership rule changes was so negative, that the U.S. congress was forced to resolve to correct what they believed to have been in error in policy change.
A modern daily newspaper is generally printed on large sheets of paper, usually on a thin, somewhat rough paper known as newsprint. Since the 1980s, many newpapers have been printed with three-color process photography and graphics. This highlights the fact that the layout of the newspaper is of prime importance in getting attention so that large sections of the newspaper will be seen and enjoyed by the persons in whose hands it ends up in.
Modern dailies commonly separate the physical newspaper into sections, wherein content is group by topic. Therefore, most major American cities will have sections covering a few of the following topics:
National News Local News (called the Metro section in many large cities papers'' – sometimes this contains news grouped by community, and each subscription site will have newspapers with local news particular to the local section of the large metro area distributed from there. Sports (Always) Classifieds (Almost always) Arts / Home furnishing (Occasionally - often leading into the home classifieds) Weekend (Many ads for upcoming entertainment events which occur usually on the weekend; this section always appears on a Friday, or the last newspaper printed before the weekend.) Classified ads (Almost always) Comics (Only on Sundays – daily comics used to always appear at the back of the sports section, then were moved into a section that usually contained fluff pieces, such as the stories on arts, exhibits, advice columnists [See Billy Graham, Ann Landers, Miss Manners], horoscopes, etc.) Opinion (Sundays – normally opinion [also called op-ed] appears in the back of the national, regional, metro, or local news sections.
Even though the opinions of the owners and readers is pretty much strictly relegated to the editorial section, or op-ed section, of the paper, newspapers have however been occasionly used for political purposes by subtly insinuating some kind of bias outside of the editorial section and into the stories it calls straight news. (See yellow journalism.) Commercial newspapers owners are believed to think that with full or majority ownership of a newspaper they have no one to answer to, and as such are free to push their personal agenda by pressuring their employees to bias the editorial content of the newspaper. It would be hard to imagine that this is not the case, as arguments have been made very clearly that newspaper publishing constitutes speech, and that since Americans are guaranteed protection against limitations on speech by the 1st amendment to the United States Constitution, newspaper owners are protected in what they may publish.
In the United Kingdom, newspapers can be classified by distribution as local or national and by page size as tabloids and broadsheets. There is often an implication that tabloids cater for more vulgar tastes than broadsheets. Within the tabloid category some titles are classed as red-tops because of the design of their front pages. This term is often used deprecatingly by newspapers that consider themselves more serious.
In Germany, the distinction between serious and tabloid papers is usually made according to whether they are available on subscription. The more sensational tabloids such as Bild are commonly called Boulevardzeitungen (boulevard papers), since they are normally available at the newsstand only; by contrast, the more serious Abonnementzeitungen (subscription papers) sell a large amount of their circulation to subscribers.
Most nations have at least one newspaper that circulates throughout the whole country, but in the United States and Canada, there are few truly national newspapers, with the exception of USA Today and the Wall Street Journal. Large metropolitan newspapers with expanded distribution networks such as the New York Times or Toronto's Globe and Mail often fill the national paper role.
Some newspapers provide their full content on the Internet, either at no cost or for a fee.
The person or company who owns newspaper is the Publisher, and the person responsible for content is the Editor, or Editor-in-Chief.
The number of copies sold on an average day is called the newspaper's circulation, and is used to set advertising rates. 1995 data from the United Nations indicate that Japan is the country with most newspaper readership, which had three daily papers with a circulation well above 4 million. Germany's Bild, with a circulation of 4.5 million, was the only other paper in that category. USA Today has daily circulation of approximately 2 million, making it the most widely read paper in the U.S.
Many newspapers offer a variety of subscription plans. For example, one might only want a Sunday paper, or perhaps onlySunday and Saturday, or maybe only a workweek subscription, or perhaps a daily subscription.