IELTS® Academic Reading Practice 43

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The History of Newspapers

For many years in many countries of the world, printed newspapers have served as the primary source of news for the general public. Cheaply produced, and regularly distributed, their accessibility seemed to guarantee their ubiquity in industrialized societies with widespread literacy and basic freedom of speech. The Internet has now taken production costs to new lows and made the distribution of information instantaneous. So, at a time when many people are predicting the death of the modern newspaper, it is perhaps interesting to take a look back at their origins in Europe.

The thirst for information, and efforts to disseminate it is certainly not a new phenomenon. In the heyday of the Roman Empire, official “news” was distributed in forms that appear to presage newspapers. From 59 BCE, people learned of current affairs through a daily gazette known as the Acta Diurna, or “Daily Events.” These were handwritten news sheets that were posted in public places, not only throughout Rome but also in the provinces. The purpose was to feed information to the public. The content was diverse: the Acta Diurna included official proclamations, results of gladiator contests, marriages, births, deaths, trials, executions, and astrological omens. It is not difficult to see the parallels in modern newspapers, which include not only current affairs but also sports news, obituaries, and horoscopes.

When the Roman Empire fell, so did the Acta Diurna, and throughout the Middle Ages there appeared little that might be said to resemble newspapers. Of course, the 15th and 16th centuries saw the advent and spread of typographic printing. However, this technology was not immediately applied to the printing of news. Current affairs were more commonly publicized by town criers reading aloud news sheets that were handwritten by official scribes. While much of the news in the 16th century was read aloud, there were news-like pamphlets, or newsbooks, being published on particular topics of recent interest. One well-known early example was an eyewitness account of the Battle of Flodden Field by Richard Fawkes, printed in 1513 in England under the title The Trew Encountre. Newsbooks such as this achieved great popularity, and by the end of the century, several dozen new pamphlets were being published each year in England and continental Europe.

Another important 16th-century development came in 1556 when the Venetian republic began the monthly Notizie scritte, or “Written notices.” Though not regarded as newspapers in the modern sense of the word (they were handwritten and only released monthly), the Notizie scritte had many traits of the modern newspaper. For one, they conveyed a variety of news – political, economic, and military - quickly throughout a wide region. And they were commercial: readers paid one gazzetta for them. A gazzetta was a Venetian coin of the time, and the word eventually gave its name to many later commercial newspapers.

In the 16th century, newsbooks – long accounts of newsworthy affairs – came to be called “relations.” At the same time, commercial newsletters reporting a variety of news – not only financial but also political – became popular and widely distributed. The stage had been set for what is now widely considered the first “newspaper:” Relation aller Fürnemmen und gedenckwürdigen Historien (Account of all distinguished and commemorable news), first appearing in 1609. Published in German, in the city of Strasbourg, by Johann Carolus, this relation meets the functional criteria that some historians use to define the modern newspaper: it reported current events regularly at short intervals.

In the following several decades, similar newspapers sprang up throughout Europe. Several German publications rivaled that of Carolus. The Dutch – as a trading nation - soon led the way in international news coverage with their corantos, or “current news.” The Swiss followed quickly in 1610, the English in 1621, the French in 1631, the Italians in 1636, and the Swedes in 1645. By mid-century many Europeans had choice in their source of news, especially as the Dutch corantos were being translated into French and English. And so the modern newspaper, albeit in a slightly different format, was born. Subsequently, as more and more people became literate, and as commercial enterprise – along with people – spread even farther, so did the thirst for news.




This reading practice simulates one part of the IELTS Academic Reading test. You should spend about twenty minutes on it. Read the passage and answer questions 1-12.
Questions 1-3
Choose the correct letter, A, B, C or D.

Write your answers in boxes 1-3 on your answer sheet.

1. Which of the following topics were NOT mentioned as being read by the citizens of the Roman Empire?

2. How were Notizie scritte, “written notices,” once distributed?

3. Where was the first publication, which meets the standard definition of a newspaper published?

Questions 4-6
Do the following statements agree with the information given in the reading passage? In boxes 4-6 on your answer sheet, write

YES   if the statement reflects the claims of the writer
NO   if the statement contradicts the claims of the writer
NOT GIVEN   if it is impossible to say what the writer thinks about this

4. The Acta Diurna survived the fall of the Roman Empire and continued in some form throughout the Middle Ages.

5. There was a high demand for newsbooks by the end of the 1500s.

6. By the 1600s many newsbooks and pamphlets reported the results of popular sporting events such as horse racing and prizefighting.

Questions 7-12
Look at the following Items (Questions 7-12) and A list of publications below.

Match each item with the associated publication

Write the correct number A-E in boxes Questions 7-12 on your answer sheet.

NB You may use any letter more than once.
A list of publications
  1. Acta Diurna
  2. Trew Encountre
  3. Notizie scritte
  4. Relation aller Fürnemmen und gedenckwürdigen Historien
  5. Dutch corantos

7. Similar to modern newspapers in that its readers paid a monetary charge

8. Became a forerunner in reporting world news events

9. Was posted in public places in order to disseminate information

10. Was published to report a single news event

11. Was translated into other languages

12. Routinely produced short topical reports at regular intervals




Answer Sheet
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
N/A
14
N/A
15
N/A
16
N/A
17
N/A
18
N/A
19
N/A
20
N/A
21
N/A
22
N/A
23
N/A
24
N/A
25
N/A
26
N/A
27
N/A
28
N/A
29
N/A
30
N/A
31
N/A
32
N/A
33
N/A
34
N/A
35
N/A
36
N/A
37
N/A
38
N/A
39
N/A
40
N/A


Reading Passage Vocabulary
The History of Newspapers


For many years in many countries of the world, printed newspapers have served as the primary source of news for the general public. Cheaply produced, and regularly distributed, their accessibility seemed to guarantee their ubiquity in industrialized societies with widespread literacy and basic freedom of speech. The Internet has now taken production costs to new lows and made the distribution of information instantaneous. So, at a time when many people are predicting the death of the modern newspaper, it is perhaps interesting to take a look back at their origins in Europe.

The thirst for information, and efforts to disseminate it is certainly not a new phenomenon. In the heyday of the Roman Empire, official “news” was distributed in forms that appear to presage newspapers. From 59 BCE, people learned of current affairs through a daily gazette known as the Acta Diurna, or “Daily Events.” These were handwritten news sheets that were posted in public places, not only throughout Rome but also in the provinces. The purpose was to feed information to the public. The content was diverse: the Acta Diurna included official proclamations, results of gladiator contests, marriages, births, deaths, trials, executions, and astrological omens. It is not difficult to see the parallels in modern newspapers, which include not only current affairs but also sports news, obituaries, and horoscopes.

When the Roman Empire fell, so did the Acta Diurna, and throughout the Middle Ages there appeared little that might be said to resemble newspapers. Of course, the 15th and 16th centuries saw the advent and spread of typographic printing. However, this technology was not immediately applied to the printing of news. Current affairs were more commonly publicized by town criers reading aloud news sheets that were handwritten by official scribes. While much of the news in the 16th century was read aloud, there were news-like pamphlets, or newsbooks, being published on particular topics of recent interest. One well-known early example was an eyewitness account of the Battle of Flodden Field by Richard Fawkes, printed in 1513 in England under the title The Trew Encountre. Newsbooks such as this achieved great popularity, and by the end of the century, several dozen new pamphlets were being published each year in England and continental Europe.

Another important 16th-century development came in 1556 when the Venetian republic began the monthly Notizie scritte, or “Written notices.” Though not regarded as newspapers in the modern sense of the word (they were handwritten and only released monthly), the Notizie scritte had many traits of the modern newspaper. For one, they conveyed a variety of news – political, economic, and military - quickly throughout a wide region. And they were commercial: readers paid one gazzetta for them. A gazzetta was a Venetian coin of the time, and the word eventually gave its name to many later commercial newspapers.

In the 16th century, newsbooks – long accounts of newsworthy affairs – came to be called “relations.” At the same time, commercial newsletters reporting a variety of news – not only financial but also political – became popular and widely distributed. The stage had been set for what is now widely considered the first “newspaper:” Relation aller Fürnemmen und gedenckwürdigen Historien (Account of all distinguished and commemorable news), first appearing in 1609. Published in German, in the city of Strasbourg, by Johann Carolus, this relation meets the functional criteria that some historians use to define the modern newspaper: it reported current events regularly at short intervals.

In the following several decades, similar newspapers sprang up throughout Europe. Several German publications rivaled that of Carolus. The Dutch – as a trading nation - soon led the way in international news coverage with their corantos, or “current news.” The Swiss followed quickly in 1610, the English in 1621, the French in 1631, the Italians in 1636, and the Swedes in 1645. By mid-century many Europeans had choice in their source of news, especially as the Dutch corantos were being translated into French and English. And so the modern newspaper, albeit in a slightly different format, was born. Subsequently, as more and more people became literate, and as commercial enterprise – along with people – spread even farther, so did the thirst for news.

 
IELTS Academic Reading Tips for Success
These are general tips that will appear on all reading questions.

Tips to improve your reading speed
To get a high score on the IELTS reading section, you need to have a fast reading speed. To have a fast reading speed, you need to improve your vocabulary and practice dissecting sentences. One strategy to dissect a sentence is to look for the subject and verb of the sentence. Finding the subject and verb will help you better understand the main idea of said sentence. Keep in mind, a common feature of a IELTS reading passage is to join strings of ideas to form long compound sentences. This produces large chunks that students have a hard time absorbing. Do not get overwhelmed by its length, just look for the subject and verb, the rest of the ideas will flow.


Keep in mind, having a slow reading speed makes skimming or scanning a reading passage more difficult. The process of quickly skimming through a reading passage for specific keywords or main ideas is a requirement for you to employ successful reading strategies to improve your IELTS reading score. In other words, skimming and scanning are critical skills to ensure you complete all questions in the allotted time frame.
IELTS Reading Strategies
Once you can read and comprehend a passage with a rate of, at least, 220 words per minute, you'll be ready to start implementing our strategies. All too often, students spend too much time reading the passages and not enough time answering the questions. Here is a step by step guide for tackling the reading section.

  1. Step 1: Read questions first

    One of the most common mistakes that candidates make when approaching the reading exam is reading every single word of the passages. Although you can practice for the exam by reading for pleasure, "reading blindly" (reading without any sense of what the questions will ask) will not do you any favors in the exam. Instead, it will hurt your chances for effectively managing your time and getting the best score.

    The main reason to read the questions first is because the type of question may determine what you read in the passage or how you read it. For example, some question types will call for the "skimming" technique, while others may call for the "scanning" technique.

    It is important to answer a set of questions that are of the same question type. You'll need to determine which question type you want to tackle first. A good strategy would be to start with the easier question type and move on to more difficult question types later. The Easiest question types are the ones where you spend less time reading. For example, the Matching Heading question type is an easier one because you only need to find the heading that best describes the main idea of a paragraph. An example of a difficult question type would be Identifying Information. For this question type, you'll need to read each paragraph to find out if each statement is TRUE, FALSE, or NOT GIVEN according to the passage.

    Here is a table that lists the difficulty levels for each question type. Use this table as a reference when choosing which question type you want to tackle first.


    Difficulty level Question Type
    Easy Sentence Completion
    Short answer
    Medium Matching Features
    Multiple choice
    Matching Headings
    Summary, Table, Flow-Chart Completion
    Difficult Matching Sentence Endings
    Matching Information
    Identifying Information (TRUE/FALSE/NOT GIVEN)
    Identifying Viewer's claims (YES/NO/NOT GIVEN)

  2. Step 2: Read for an objective

    After you've read the questions for the passage, you will be able to read for an objective. What does this mean? For example, if you come across a question that includes the year "1896", you can make a note of when this year comes up in the text, using it to answer the question later on. There are two reading techniques that will help you stay on track with reading for an objective. The first one, skimming, is best defined as reading fast in order to get the "gist", or general idea, or a passage. With this technique, you are not stopping for any unfamiliar words or looking for specific details. The second technique, scanning, is best defined as reading for specific information. With this technique, you are not reading for the overall gist, but rather, specific information. Notice how each of these techniques has a specific objective in mind. This will help you find information more quickly.

  3. Step 3: Take notes

    As you're reading for an objective, you should also be making notes on the margins of the passage, placing stars next to key information, or underlining things that you believe will help you answer the various questions. This will make it easier for you to check back when you are asked certain things in the questions. Choose whichever note-taking system is right for you - just make sure you do it!

  4. Step 4: Answer wisely

    After you've read the questions, read the passage, and have taken any appropriate notes, you you should have located the part of the text where you where you need to read carefully. Then just read carefully and think critically to determine the correct answer.

IELTS Reading Question Types
 
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