‘Analyze the footnotes’: Why US reporter Margot Williams starts at the end

Spencer Woodman:

In 2009, you told ProPublica: “I am a reader of documents. There’s no substitute for reading every line of every page.” For all our skills in acquiring documents, could reporters stand to improve how closely we read the documents we obtain?

I have to confess that I read for details and clues more than the general meaning. I obsessively analyze the footnotes. On a big document, I start at the end and read backwards because I know everyone else is starting from the beginning and often stops before the end. I try to find within a document what can be counted, aggregated, analyzed.