What do skritter stats mean in real life?

When can you “read a newspaper”, really? How many words do you need to know to be functional? I’ve heard the “3000 character” figure everywhere, but that is only characters and not words.

I’m in the middle of the HSK 4 list and I have 1187 characters + 1004 words learned. So far I’m useless at Chinese conversation and reading general texts. Realistically, I have the vocabulary of a 4 year old child.

Assuming you work on speaking / listening skills outside of skritter, is there a numerical value when you start to be able to read and watch TV shows?

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