Some people say that it doesn't matter what you read, as long as you read. While that statement may carry truth with it for those who are just starting to build vocabulary, as a generalization overall, it is a specious claim. Newspapers and books are different sources of information, and the antidote for avoiding books is not reading the newspaper.
Building Stronger Vocabulary
For those who are just starting to speak English, the newspaper is a strong source of vocabulary. However, the primary goal of a newspaper is to sell mass quantities to a general audience. As a result, it needs to contain vocabulary words that people understand. Authors of books, while hoping to make money, also tend to genuinely have a love for books and words. Therefore, exposure to stronger vocabulary words tends to stem from books and not from newspapers. Also, when you're browsing through a newspaper, you may not care to look up an unfamiliar word in the dictionary; you'll simply move on to the next article. Glossing over a word in a book could lead to larger misinterpretation.
Understanding Literary Elements
Newspaper writing focuses on bringing you the facts and details about a situation. It is not largely concerned with plot development, characterization, motifs, imagery, symbolism, irony and all of the other elements that breathe life into literature. Not only does reading books help to introduce you to these various concepts, but it also gives you the opportunity to harness their power in your own writing. In a way, reading books is the more didactic approach to obtaining information.
Using Your Imagination
When you sit down to read a newspaper, you don't have to bring as many of your own skills to the table. Depending upon the nature of the article, you may need to bring along background information or an understanding of jargon that is used. However, despite that fact, newspapers rarely require you to use your imagination. Reading a book helps you to develop a firm grasp on the aforementioned literary elements, but it also requires that you bring your own thought to the text. Not only can you envision who the characters are, but you can also develop a deep analysis that brings literature into the realm of the real world.
Establishing a Solid Knowledge Base
While once in awhile a newspaper might use an allusion to generate a laugh or to create a facetious tone, they are generally not concerned with building a strong knowledge base of references. Books, on the other hand, often rely on a greater understanding of culture at large. They also help to develop that culture. Take the Bible for example. This book is constantly referenced not only in other books, but also in movies, television shows, plays, museums and so forth. A person who has never read any elements of this text would have a difficult time understanding references when they appear elsewhere.
Developing a History of the Past
Newspapers are usually concerned with what is happening here and now. Some books are modern, but others take us to times in the past. Simply reading a book that was written hundreds of years ago is an enchanting way to gain a very real connection to the past. Reading this type of literature brings you into the mindset of a person who lived long ago, whether that was in the early 19th century or in ancient times. Newspapers deal with modern writers only. Also, by reading a multitude of books, you will gain a deeper understanding of the past. Reading books helps you to learn about history.
Reading Quality Material
Some newspapers have a strong reputation for producing quality material that represents the truth. Other newspapers are well-known for their gossip or their highly biased material that presents you with skewed facts. While not all books are non-fiction, they can represent a higher quality of material than can these newspapers. For people who are avid readers, or who want to become avid readers, the ability to engage with well-written material of a superior level is necessary. Reading books allows writers to meet some of the greats, such as Shakespeare, Fitzgerald and Faulker.
This information is not to disregard reading newspapers as entirely counterproductive. Reading most information does have some benefits to provide. Yet reading a newspaper does not provide as many benefits as settling down with a book.