My 9-year-old son, Ross, is a faithful reader of the News & Observer’s sports section. He feels lost without it at the breakfast table each morning.
Today, I observed the way Ross reads the section. With apologies to my Eyetrack friends at The Poynter Institute, here’s some anecdotal “research” on the reading patterns of my son.
Ross quickly scanned the front page and noticed the centerpiece on Maryland’s win over Duke in a big ACC basketball game. Then he turned to the back of the section and began poring over the agate page.
There, Ross noticed that the Carolina Hurricanes hockey team had made several trades the day before. He rattled off the list of players swapped.
What makes this interesting is that a bylined story on the top left of the section’s front page was about the Carolina trades. The story had a headline, a small photo and body text. But Ross had missed it altogether in favor of the tiny type in the back of the section.
For my son, the agate page is where the news is. It’s pure data and trivia, and for him, the most important page in the section. He’s probably not alone among sports fans.