Journalists In the “Spotlight”

Review of 2016 Oscar winner for Best Picture

Journalists are often perceived as deceitful, but in the movie, Spotlight, they save many people by allowing them to be heard when they could not speak up. In this movie, based off of a true story, a team of journalists investigates a scandal about a Catholic priest in Boston who sexually abused children.

Once the journalists dig deeper into this story, they find out information about other priests that has been kept a secret for years. Their “watchdog” role leads them to discovering that a multitude of priests have sexually abused children in the city of Boston. Their evidence led to the discovery of this issue worldwide. The groundbreaking story was published in the Globe on Jan. 6, 2002.

This movie displays how imperative reporters are to our society and how they help bring attention to people who deserve to be heard. I appreciated the plot of this movie because it educated me on the role of journalists across the world and why they are necessary in our society. The intriguing story line paired with the knowledge of journalists’ jobs made this an inspirational and eye opening film.

I found the plot compelling because the journalists unexpectedly became the protagonists. The digging that journalists do to get good stories is often seen as conniving because people think they are only doing it to get more readers. Spotlight proves that many journalists think more about the people in the story rather than the story itself. When the members of The Boston Globe first found out about the priest who sexually abused children, they went straight to the victims for research and evidence.They knew that no one has publicly heard from the victims, but they were a crucial part of the story.

Even though they have stayed quiet, the victims’ stories were the most accurate. Roy J. Harris Jr. stated “The idea of fairness in journalism often involves making sure the positions of all sides of a story are accurately and dispassionately represented. The Spotlight Team certainly did that, reaching out to priests and church officials for interviews, as well as to victims, attorneys and experts on sexual abuse.”  

The idea of fairness in journalism often involves making sure the positions of all sides of a story are accurately and dispassionately represented.

— Roy J. Harris Jr.

Everyone had heard what the priests had done, but no one had heard what the victims had to say about this situation. The Boston Globe focused on the victims for their story because they wanted to be fair. They didn’t focus on creating a good story; they focused on making sure the public knew what happened to the victims. They cared about how the victims felt, and made sure the public saw the pain they went through.

This movie was controversial because the priests were caught doing something immoral even though they have a divine image. Most people refuse to accept the fact that a Catholic priest would do something such as sexual abuse. Instead of blaming the priests, people want to blame the journalists for digging too deep for a good story. The reporters in this movie gain credentials by getting their evidence straight from the victims and record books of when the priests were on leave. When people realized the journalists weren’t exaggerating the story, they understood that the victims needed to be heard. The journalists revealed so much information for the victims that the Catholic Church felt uneasy.

Michelle Boorstein said, “The Catholic Church now spends tens of millions of dollars each year on child protection efforts — and spends roughly twice as much annually now as it did a decade ago, according to the USCCB’s annual reports.” After this public story, the Catholic Church felt responsible for making sure to raise awareness for children going through this.

The publicity from the journalists increased attention and donations to this cause, so they saved more than just the people involved in their cases. Walter V. Robinson stated “When the Globe began documenting the extensive abuse and the cover-up in January 2002, the story exploded, first in Boston, then nationally and in countries around the world.” Not only did this topic spread across the Catholic Church, it spread around the world. Many more victims were heard because of these journalists, and more awareness was delivered to this cause.

The movie Spotlight opened many viewers’ eyes about the crucial role of journalists. Their well-known conniving stereotype has led the public to believe they do more harm than good. Journalists are actually the center of media, and essential information would not be able to spread without them. Our society today relies heavily on media, and it would not be as useful without journalists. Having “watchdogs” to report information on all sides of the stories lets us know about the problems in our world and what we can do to help. They bring together our society by allowing everyone to support a cause that they wouldn’t have known about otherwise.