Translation:She reads a book and I read the newspaper.
This is true of most of the audio. Specifically the male articles give me trouble at full speed. Usually you can guess from context but this one switches on you.
I also disagree that duo makes the distinction between the/a newspaper. In common english (or, at least dialects with which I'm familiar) these are used interchangeably in most cases. "I am reading a newspaper" is equivalent to "I am reading the newspaper" unless you are making a specific distinction by placing emphasis on the "the".
Normally you use 'e' except when the next word starts with a vowel. In that case, 'ed' is frequently used. This is not a steadfast rule, however. It's an euphonic measure to counter ugly sounding vowel combinations. It is most frequently used if the vowel following the 'e' is also an 'e'. A counterexample would be 'ed Edmondo'. I guess most Italians would prefer 'e Edmondo' because it sounds better. The same rule applies for 'a/ad' BTW. Think about the usage of 'a/an' in English.
Journal is something one writes to record personal life events. Newspaper is written by reporters to inform the public of events outside personal life. For example: "Ann writes in her journal every day about her experiences at her new school" and "Joseph read about the robbery in the newspaper". Journal would be the correct answer if you were translating to French, not to English.
"ed" is the same as "e" just that the "ed" is used if the next letter sounds similar. It's really used to break up like sounding vowels so it doesn't sound like a long vowel sound.
For example: "libro ed io leggo", "e" and "i" similar enough (eh and eeoh) that it would be hard to differentiate between them. So "ed" is used so that the listener knows that you are saying "and I"
"ed io" is highly discouraged (Accademia della Crusca), because in it sounds like "e Dio" (and God in English). In modern italian it is mandatory to use the euphonic "d" only when there are the same vowels.
Es. we write "ed eccoci", "ed era", "ed Enrico"; "e Alberto", "e io", "e aprì", "e ora", "e Umberto".
I can't give you a textbook answer to that, but it would just be and sound odd without "io". Language is redundant. Perhaps to make it clear that we're talking about a different person. I'm not Italian, but it would be the same in Portuguese, which is also a Romance language.