In 2002, a group of reporters at the Boston Globe won a Pulitzer prize for exposing widespread child abuse by priests in that city and a massive coverup up of that abuse by leaders of the Catholic Church.
The new movie, SPOTLIGHT, shows how those reporters spent a year uncovering the truth.
The movie is not melodrama or sensationalism. Instead, it’s a celebration of the investigative journalism that exposed the church’s hypocrisy. The all star cast is excellent.
Man who was abused as a child: “When you’re a poor kid from a poor family, and when a priest pays attention to you, it’s a big deal. How do you say no to God?”
When four Boston Globe reporters led by Michael Keaton as Robby Robinson begin their investigation into pedophilia by Catholic priests, they quickly discover that the problem is bigger than they expected and that although some of the victims got settlements from the church, records of those settlements were sealed.
But by following every lead and interviewing dozens of victims, they learn that about 90 Boston priests were guilty of molesting children.
Female reporter (Rachel McAdams): The numbers clearly indicate that there were senior clergy involved.
But their editor, Marty Baron (played by Liev Schreiber) wants to find out more before they publish any stories.
Marty: Show me they put those same priests back into parishes time and time again. Show me this was systemic, that it came from the top down.
But the lawyers who defended the priests don’t want to give the reporters any information.
Lawyer: I was doing my job.
Robby: Yeah, you and everyone else.
Robby: You’re going to give me their names and the names of their victims.
2nd Lawyer: Are you threatening me?
Robby: We’ve got two stories here. A story about degenerate clergy and a story about a bunch of lawyers turning child abuse into a cottage industry. Which story do you want us to write, because we’re writing one of them.
The reporting team (which also includes actors Mark Ruffalo and Brian d’Arcy James) also has to deal with a less than enthusiastic management at the paper:
Publisher: The church will fight us very hard on this which won’t go unnoticed by our subscriber base. 53 percent of them are Catholic.
Marty: I think they’ll be interested.
Ultimately the newspaper revealed that 244 Boston priests had abused 1000 children—Later in the decade, other investigations showed that cities all over the world had similar numbers.
Terry Hunter, Hawaii News Now. firstname.lastname@example.org