Lesson No. 3: The Two Step Competitive Reading Strategy

Reading Goal

  • Identify the source text’s most important details (textual evidence) supporting this main idea. 


Main Idea

“Peter S. Goodman builds an argument using evidence, reasoning, style (syntax, sentence variety) and rhetorical devices (word choice, appeals to emotion, repetition) to persuade his audience that news organizations should increase the amount of professional foreign news coverage provided to people in the United States.”


Source Materials: Find the Details, Details, Details

Underline capitalized words, acronyms, numbers, dates, words with four or more syllables (including compound nouns and hyphenated words), repeated words and anything else that strikes you as essential to the main idea, all while notating in the margins any connections you make between different details. (As you notate, use abbreviations to make the process quicker.) The writing phase of your response is more like putting together a puzzle than critical writing. What you identify as important details will literally be regurgitated within your response. 


Adapted from Peter S. Goodman’s, “Foreign News at a Crisis Point.” ©2013 by eHuffingtonPost.com, Inc. Originally published September 25, 2013. Peter Goodman is the executive business and global news editor at eHuffingtonPost.com.

1. Back in 2003American Journalism Review produced a census of foreign correspondents then employed by newspapers based in the United States, and found 307 full-time people. When AJR repeated the exercise in the summer of 2011, the count had dropped to 234. And even that number was signifcantly inflated by the inclusion of contract writers who had replaced full-time staffers.

2. In the intervening eight years20 American news organizations had entirely eliminated their foreign bureaus.

3. The same AJR survey zeroed in on a representative sampling of American papers from across the country and found that the space devoted to foreign news had shrunk by 53 percent over the previous quarter-century.

4. All of this decline was playing out at a time when the U.S. was embroiled in two overseas wars, with hundreds of thousands of Americans deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan. It was happening as domestic politics grappled with the merits and consequences of a global war on terror, as a Great Recession was blamed in part on global imbalances in savings, and as world leaders debated a global trade treaty and pacts aimed at addressing climate change. It unfolded as American workers heard increasingly that their wages and job security were under assault by competition from counterparts on the other side of oceans.

5. In short, news of the world is becoming palpably more relevant to the day-to-day experiences of American readers, and it is rapidly disappearing.

6. Yet the same forces that have assailed print media, eroding foreign news along the way, may be fashioning a useful response. Several nonprofit outlets have popped up to finance foreign reporting, and a for-profit outfit, GlobalPost, has dispatched a team of 18 senior correspondents into the field, supplemented by dozens of stringers and freelancers….

7. We are intent on forging fresh platforms for user-generated content: testimonials, snapshots and video clips from readers documenting issues in need of attention. Too often these sorts of efforts wind up feeling marginal or even patronizing: “Dear peasant, here’s your chance to speak to the pros about what’s happening in your tiny little corner of the world.” We see user-generated content as a genuine reporting tool, one that operates on the premise that we can only be in so many places at once. Crowd-sourcing is a fundamental advantage of the web, so why not embrace it as a means of piecing together a broader and more textured understanding of events?

8. We all know the power of TwitterFacebook and other forms of social media to connect readers in one place with images and impressions from situations unfolding far away. We know the force of social media during the Arab Spring, as activists convened and reacted to changing circumstances…. Facts and insights reside on social media, waiting to be harvested by the digitally literate contemporary correspondent.

9. And yet those of us who have been engaged in foreign reporting for many years will confess to unease over many of the developments unfolding online, even as we recognize the trends are as unstoppable as globalization or the weather. Too often it seems as if professional foreign correspondents, the people paid to use their expertise while serving as informational filters, are being replaced by citizen journalists who function largely as funnels, pouring insight along with speculationpropaganda and other white noise into the mix.

10. We can celebrate the democratization of media, the breakdown of monopolies, the rise of innovative means of telling stories, and the inclusion of a diversity of voices, and still ask whether the results are making us better informed. Indeed, we have a professional responsibility to continually ask that question while seeking to engineer new models that can channel the web in the interest of better informing readers….

11. We need to embrace the present and gear for the future. These are days in which newsrooms simply must be entrepreneurial and creative in pursuit of new means of reporting and paying for it. That makes this a particularly interesting time to be doing the work, but it also requires forthright attention to a central demand: We need to put back what the Internet has taken away. We need to turn the void into something fresh and compelling. We need to re-examine and update how we gather information and how we engage readers, while retaining the core values of serious-minded journalism.

12. This will not be easy…. But the alternative—accepting ignorance and parochialism—is simply not an option.

—2003 US papers cut foreign corr. In 8 years, 20 papers eliminated. Threatens “ignorance” + “parochialism” 

—Iraq, Afghanistan, soldiers in war zones without enough new coverage can create additional dangers and issues.

—Americanized news taking over hard core global coverage

—GlobalPost is righting the wrong, but is this “crowd-sourcing a good thing?

—Social networking, Arab Spring (need to know what this is about)

—Uh oh. Can Facebook posts replace expert journalism? speculation, propaganda, white noise

—democratization of media is good, but not enough. We still need professional journalists who will cut through propaganda and speculation and give the news and facts.

—cautiously optimistic view of the future of journalism. Excellent repetitive rhetorical/persuasive strategy here. “We need to…” is an effective closure and summation strategy. It expresses strong emotion the same way your mother repeating herself about cleaning your room expresses her strong emotion about cleaning your room. Use this repetition/persuasive/rhetorical strategy in your response as both a point of discussion and as a way to write the last paragraph of the response.

Here it is! This is the meat of the article. The body paragraphs are all about supporting Goodman’s caution of “ignorance” and  “parochialism” in “democratized” journalism.

Now your job is easy. Locate the  most important details Goodman uses to support his claim. You don’t even really have to think too hard. Goodman has done all the work of you. . Think of this essay as playing a game of telephone. Imagine that you, Goodman and the SAT scorers are all sitting in a circle on the floor. Goodman has whispered his statement to you. Now, all you have to do is whisper what he said to the scorers while convincing them that you paid attention in English class. Make sure you are whispering the most important underlined and circled words! 

*As you notate, do not worry about grammar, spelling punctuation. Save that for your actual essay response.


Competitive athletes will practice a single step within a skill set over and over until the skill becomes “muscle memory.” Your brain is a muscle. Practice each step over and over and, in time, your brain will function more quickly and successfully for you in competitive testing scenarios because your training will kick in even when you are nervous, exhausted or overwhelmed, which let’s face it, we often are in testing scenarios. Training the body and the mind to react and function automatically is the key to competitive cerebral excellence as much as it is key to athletic excellence.