The 88th Academy Awards show resulted in 2 wins for Spotlight, a movie that recounts the events of the Boston Globe team that released and revealed the Catholic Church scandal involving child molestation among the institution’s priests. The win is credited to production and screenplay, but the story shines a light on the skills of hardworking journalists. Winning an academy award will hopefully inspire current and future journalists to tackle difficult stories, and motivate them to dig deeper to find truths.
USA Today posted two online articles analyzing the effect the movie has had on the American public. Both stories criticize Spotlight for not having enough of an impact on other journalists until it won academy awards and express doubts that the movie will impact society as much as it aimed to.
The first article claims that Spotlight missed the true story. It discusses how the National Catholic Reporter, a small independently owned paper circulating only 35,000 copies, first revealed the molestation allegations against Catholic priests. USA Today uses this to highlight the virtues of print journalism and investigative reporting, but laments the fact that small reports often get overlooked when national papers express fear or hesitation to follow up with extensive reporting.
USA Today brings up a good point about the problems facing print news today. Because media has expanded with technology, there are many ways to consume news and stories often get overlooked because they are too controversial for national reports. The largest news outlets often concern themselves with partisanship, and worry about the effects that reporting will have on large institutions. Even after the Watergate scandal, the news is less concerned with exposing hidden truths, and more concerned with giving readers what they want. Currently, it is left up to niche publications to publicize truths and to provide context and deeper understanding for larger publications to pick up on. Hopefully, the attention gathered by the Academy Awards leads to a spark in investigative reporting, and the duty of journalists to inform the public and act as watchdogs against the government.
The second USA Today article brings up another good point regarding problems in reporting that can be solved by following in the footsteps of the Boston Globe’s reporters. The article discusses how citizens can’t expect a movie to change the Catholic Institution. But there are still many issues left for journalists to express in order to push for reform. There is still unfinished business regarding the events that went unpunished for so many years, mainly that Bishops and Cardinals in many archdiocese are still allowed to retain their positions and have not faced criticism for their lack of effort in exposing priests involved in child molestation. According to the article, there are 17,000 victims going as far back as the 1950s that deserve justice from the Catholic Church, and still, the Vatican has remained silent.
Hopefully, the publicity gathered by Spotlight will lead to more reporting on this issue, and issues like it.
“We made this film for all the journalists who have and continue to hold the powerful accountable, and for the survivors whose courage and will to overcome is really an inspiration,” said director and co-writer Tom McCarthy.