Wick Communications

Make time for ‘Spotlight’

In journalism on November 20, 2015 at 8:55 am

Last weekend, I spent two hours sitting still in a dark room and it was the most motivating thing I’ve done in a long time.

I went to see the movie “Spotlight.” You’ve probably heard of it. It’s the nearly entirely true tale of how an investigative unit at The Boston Globe – long known as Spotlight — broke open the Catholic Church pedophilia scandal. For my money, the story is one of the most important, most difficult investigations in the history of American journalism. It’s right up there with Watergate.

Every review I’ve read is glowing. Perhaps that is because they were written by newspaper people who could use a heroic journalism tale right about now.

The Associated Press’ Lindsey Bahr writes: “This is the kind of simmering process film that makes you want to roll up your sleeves and do some work. To knock on some doors, ask some questions, ignore warnings, crack open a beer, burn the midnight oil and really do something — or maybe that’s just what every journalist watching this film will think.”

She calls it one of the best journalism movies of all time. If that isn’t cause for celebration, I don’t know what is. …

One interesting facet of the movie is that it caught a particular moment in journalism. It was right around the turn of the millennium. Reporters were leaning on old-school in-house research departments, manned with professional diggers who compiled dossiers and copied articles from microfiche to provide background. Reporters dug through old print directories. And they were also beginning to use online tools and even more sophisticated spreadsheet tools. It was the dawning of an age and the dying of another.

Go see it. You won’t be disappointed.

Clay

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