‘Spotlight’ restarts conversation


Since its release in November, the latest Academy Award winner for Best Picture, “Spotlight,” is still causing quite the conversation.

The film, which premiered at the Venice Film Festival back in September 2015, focuses on the Boston Globe’s investigative journalist team and its exploration into cases of extensive child sex abuse in the greater Boston area by a large number of Roman Catholic priests.

The film won top prize at this past Sunday’s Academy Awards, as well as best original screenplay, and the English newspaper, The Guardian, is calling it “a great thing for journalism.”

The author, Alicia Shepard, says that the film is and should do wonders for the news business, but also better the public’s understanding of journalism to “ultimately inform and do good.”

Marty Baron, who is the former executive editor at the Globe, portrayed in the film by Live Schreiber, said that the film expose a whole new generation about why journalism is still so important. He also spoke to the British publication about how “…painstakingly demonstrates how difficult it is to penetrate a powerful institution such as the Catholic Church- but it proves that it can be done.”

Baron went on to say that endeavors such as this are critical and time-consuming, and that we as journalists need to do more of it, not less.

Following the films big win in the ‘best picture’ and ‘best original screenplay,’ Baron Tweeted:

Screen Shot 2016-03-04 at 12.55.55 AMThe wins were even followed up by commentary from the Archbishop of Boston, Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley.

He says to Vanity Fair, “Spotlight is an important film for all impacted by the tragedy of clergy sexual abuse. By providing in-depth reporting on the history of the clergy sexual abuse crisis, the media led the Church to acknowledge the crimes and since of its personnel and to begin to address its failings, the harm done to victims and their families and needs of survivors…. The media’s role in revealing the sexual abuse crisis opened a door through which the Church has walked in responding to the needs of survivors. Protecting children and providing support for survivors and their families must be a priority in all aspects of the life of the Church…. We continue to seek the forgiveness of all who have been harmed by the tragedy of clergy sexual abuse and pray that each day the Lord may guide us on the path toward healing and renewal.” 

Additionally, the L’Osservator Romano Vatican newspaper published a front-page editorial on the film’s Oscar win, earlier in the week.

Hollywood industry rag, Variety, calls the highest honor in film, a “triumph of excellence over ego.”

‘Spotlight’ illuminates a sensitive topic


In response to the film “Spotlight” winning the Best Picture Academy Award last Sunday, news coverage has rekindled its fire toward the issue of sexual assault in the Catholic Church.

“Spotlight” tells the story of an original investigation conducted by the Boston Globe that began in 2002, when reporters in the Globe’s investigative team started to analyze cases of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church.

Recently CBS News released information that a Grand Jury report had found two bishops had hidden more than 100 sexual assault cases by more than 50 priests and religious leaders in the past 40 years. Evidence was found for these cases in a secretive dioceses archive.

News media are the only way a population will be informed about what goes in the world around them. While I appreciated the quality of storytelling that “Spotlight” did in order for the public to know about the issue, I am sad that it took almost 14 years after the original investigation in order for people to recognize its relevance again.

Does it really take a Hollywood picture to emphasize the weight of corruptness inside of this religious organization, or in any organization?

If that truly is the case, then the news media should emphasize other channels in order to get across crucial messages. A compelling story like this one could not have been told in a more emotional, factual and enlightening way.

Film is a medium of communication that has not been unlocked to its full potential and is one of the few art forms and media channels that engages an audience through almost every sense.

While issues like this one and undoubtedly others go unnoticed, it is our job as the media to not only inform the public, but also truly convey the importance and pertinence of current issues in whatever media channel that is most effective.