Readability of the Raleigh News & Observer
John J. Brogden
Dr. Shinemin Lin
MATH 222/Business Statistics
February 13, 2014
The main objective of this project is to determine the readability of a newspaper. In this case, The Raleigh News & Observer. The hypothesis is that a newspaper’s readability is lower than a 5th grade level. Using Microsoft Excel, Stat Crunch, and Dr. Fry’s readability formula, I will determine if this holds true with the newspaper stated above. I have selected five different articles from five different sections of the newspaper: Local, Business/Economics, Politics, Sports, Entertainment. I have also theorized that the readability of the News ...view middle of the document...
In order to find the readability of the newspaper, I set forth to find the readability of each article first just so that I can see if there’s a difference in each category that I’ve chosen. We’ll use the first set of data from Table 2 titled ‘Pennies to fight cancer’ as an example for this portion. I tallied the total number of words and syllables for the 30 sentences: 449 words, 619 syllables. I then divided the total word count by 30.
449 / 30 = 14.97
619 / 30 = 20.63
We’ll label these as n and m, respectively. Next, is finding the N and M values that we’re going to use for the Fry Graph. To find the N value (number of sentences per 100 words), we would have to divide 100 by 14.97. And to find the M value (number of syllables per 100 words), we would have to multiply m by N.
N = 100 / 14.97 = 6.68
M = 20.63 x 6.68 = 137.81
When we input these two data on the Fry Readability Graph (Table 1), N on the vertical axis and M on the horizontal axis, we come to the conclusion that this specific article’s readability is at a 7th grade level (gray line, Table 1). I did the same calculations for all the other articles to determine each one’s readability. The results were: 7th, 9th, 10th, and 8th grade levels. Judging by these numbers, it seems to me that the newspapers readability is probably along 8th grade level.
In order to find out for certain, I added all the words and syllables from all 5 articles and I was able to get 2,613 words, 3,824 syllables. From there, I divided each by 150 (total sentences for the five articles).
n = 2,613 / 150 = 17.42
m = 3,824 / 150 = 25.49
After we find the average for both, it’s just doing the same steps as finding for the individual articles.
N = 100 / 17.42 = 5.74
M = 25.49 x 5.74 = 145.31
When data is in put in the Fry Graph, the result is on the line between 8th grade and 9th grade (blue line, Table 1). As we all see, the readability of this particular newspaper is at least 3 grades higher than the average. During this experiment, I’ve noticed that the business/economic topic along with the political topic are rated at a high school level while sports scored at a 7th grade readability. Could it be that sports topics are more targeted towards a wider set of audience? Maybe business and political topics have higher readability because people who are more inclined to read it are people with higher education. That’s a project for another time.
Saunders, Barry (2014). A 7-year old gets angry, and pennies flow to fight cancer. News &
Observer, retrieved from http://www.newsobserver.com/2014/02/09/3606401/saunders-a-7-year-old-gets-angry.html
Sorensen, Tom (2014). Panthers’ Rivera had a nice ride in 2013 but journey isn’t over. News &
Observer, retrieved from http://www.newsobserver.com/2014/02/05/3595260/sorensen-panthers-rivera-had-a.html
Ranii, David (2014). Triangle economy benefits as biotech sector heats up. News & Observer,