This article details a newspaper-based composition exercise focused on examining coverage of a trio of local political sex scandals. The exercise encouraged first-year composition students to analyze how the rhetorical strategies that the New York Post used in covering these three similar scandals—which involved former New York governor Eliot Spitzer, then-current New York governor David Paterson, and former New Jersey governor Jim McGreevey—differed markedly depending on the Post’s then-relationship to each political figure. In the exercise, students chose several articles at random from a selection of newspaper clippings about these scandals and wrote any interesting headlines, epithets, or descriptions of cartoons they had found on the section of the board dedicated to each governor; students then used the evidence gathered in each section to generate and support thesis statements about the Post’s differing coverage of the three governors’ scandals. This examination through close reading of the Post’s rhetorical strategies in covering parallel sex scandals inspired thoughtful discourse among my composition students, including an increased appreciation of and interest in the news media, an improved understanding of the strategies that scholars use when they gather and interpret textual evidence, and intelligent discussions about the implications of rhetorical strategies utilizing Otherness.
Lisa M. Dresner; The Composition Classroom and the Political Sex Scandal: The Pedagogical Value of the “Tail” Of Three Governors in the New York Post. Pedagogy 1 January 2014; 14 (1): 161–176. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/15314200-2348947
Download citation file: