SPJ UW held a screening of Spotlight, the procedural following the Boston Globe’s investigation into child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. The film recently took away Oscars for Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay. After the screening, students discussed the journalistic issues the movie raised.
Students noted that the work the Spotlight team did — and won a Pulitzer Prize for — critiqued the powerful and an entire system in Boston. Another student compared Spotlight to the TV show The Newsroom, noting that of the two, Spotlight comes across as far more realistic and less dramatized.
At one point in the movie, a reporter is interviewing a source about the abuse he endured, and presses him to use more specific language than that he was “molested.” Students had differing opinions on whether this was necessary. They also discussed the Spotlight team’s methods of getting in contact with these sources, which usually involved just going door to door. Was this the best method of contacting sources? Maybe it was the only way, in this situation.
Students also discussed the way the Boston Globe journalists worked as a team, and lamented the fact that resources for such investigative projects are far more scarce in newsrooms today.
A number of the Spotlight team’s Pulitzer Prize-winning articles can be read on the Globe’s website here.