Reading Grade Level for Newspapers

He Said…

This is totally off the Full Time RVing topic.

As mentioned in another post, I’m a college adjunct instructor.  The only thing I teach is “Technical Writing” (aka business writing). And a topic came up while bored during lunch today that I thought was uselessly interesting!
I’ve used the average reading level of the audience that newspapers are written to as a lead in to my “know your audience” lesson in my Technical Writing class. And, while I don’t remember where I heard it, I always used 6th-8th grade.  The purpose being that a writer needs to know their audience and then write to that audience’s abilities.

In the office today, I heard someone say that the average was 5th grade for newspapers.

So… I did some quick research on my lunch break 🙂 You can find this info on Wikipedia to get you started.

The information I found shows a different story than what I’ve lead my students to believe.

I went to the websites of the Daily Times, NY Times, USA Today, and Readers Digest and took a random three articles from their homepages and used Microsoft Word’s spell check feature to find the article’s Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level score.

Flesch-Kincaid Reading Level Scores for a few Newspapers
Flesch-Kincaid Reading Level Scores for a few Newspapers

The results were surprising; nothing was close to 5th or 6th grade reading levels. The closest was the Readers Digest at 8th grade!

I just checked this blog and the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level is 6.4 – so you all should be able to read this.  But now I want to go back and check out my other blogs to see the grade level I’ve been writing to!  Just curious, you know?

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