The Oscar Award winning film, “Spotlight” portrays investigative reporting of the Boston priest molestation scandals in a whole new level. The reporting itself shed a new light on this topic and eventually led to the discovery of similar cases throughout the world. It created a widespread break through of the Catholic Church and what they stood for. Although, the entire project they are investigating involves emotionally heavy content, the movie focuses completely on the newsgathering and journalism that went behind it, which makes it stand out among other award winning movies.
The real-life Spotlight team is based at The Boston Globe and was created in the 70s. It continues to be the oldest investigative reporting unit in the United States and won a Pulitzer Prize because of their phenomenal reporting on the sex abuse scandals against the Catholic Church in the early 2000s.
The entire movie dramatizes the intensity of in-depth reporting, which went into the scandal that was swept under the rug beneath the city of Boston. The Spotlight team dedicates months or even years focusing on one project or story, so they can provide the best quality of information to their readers. A controversial topic such as the one this film depicts requires an abundance amount of research, interviewing and getting hands on the right documents. In the case of this story, the documents they needed were sealed.
This story involved a series of corruption and unethical behavior from all levels of authority besides the priests themselves making it an even more compelling story these reporters couldn’t wait to get out to the public.
There is, however, a big difference between this story and any other given story the Globe has written. The reporters gained an emotional attachment to the story itself. As being apart of the audience, I could almost feel their compassion and willingness to bring the story for the public to see. And not for profit or recognition, but for the acknowledgement of a disgusting reality those young children were facing.
The members of the team physically walk to the homes of those they interview and faced the challenge of people who hated reporters. They spoke to victims about their most personal life experiences and underwent the unsettling feeling.
Since this was also a time where the Internet had not taken full force, I noticed the abundance of files and documents that the editors would have to study for days at a time to pick up one piece of information. I specifically recall the scene where Robinson, Renendez and Carroll go through the several directories of Boston clergy members. Today, a simple task such as that would take a few clicks on the Internet.
Technology has had a profound impact on journalism. The rapid innovations and the emergence of social media have changed the way people read their news. Print newspapers have become almost obsolete but the industry itself, print journalism, is in no way dying. It’s in a period of transition and you can start to see the transformation in this movie with their use of e-mail, cell phones and light Internet use.
Knowing this is a biographical drama; the audience can sense the urgency to get the story in the hands of the readers. The emotional stories of the victims and the ignorance of the churchgoers exemplify the drama of what the reporters were trying to uncover. They spoke to the same lawyer multiple times despite the lack of information he shared. They resorted to aggression when trying to access what was thought to be the sealed documents. They did whatever they needed to do to reveal accurate information.
“Spotlight” simply shows the action of the reporters and the work that goes into under-the-radar stories such as this one. The journalists are doing their job and this movie emphasizes the extreme investigation that took place back in 2001. In some ways it decreases the stigma of journalists and their sometime skewed use of media coverage. “Spotlight” is a genuine, determined team that uses their expertise to, in this case, change an entire society’s perspective on something as crucial as this.