David versus Goliath, a Boston newspaper versus the institution of Catholicism: “Spotlight” is the story of a team of reporters. The team members covered a story that affected the world. They fought to oust the repeated accusations of molestation within the church. Secrets buried, the accused protected, and thousands upon thousands of silenced victims are all stories that the Spotlight team made public.
Revealing such an ugly truth as a priest pedophilia scandal in a close-knit city such as Boston isn’t easy. Spotlight felt resistance from the Church, their neighbors, family members and friends all swearing that the priests were good and righteous people. The evidence tells a different story. Hundreds of priests and brothers were all confirmed to have had credible accusations made against them.
Nothing could stop the Spotlight team from uncovering the truth. A passion for justice and invested reporters made a tough offense for the Globe. The editor of the Boston Globe, Marty Baron, continued to believe that the story was bigger that people thought. It was this dedication that turned the story from one or two cases of molestation, to a pattern that is repeated all over the world to millions of children.
Some reporters, such as Sacha Pfeiffer, lost their connection to religion by writing these stories. It was hard for her, or anyone aware, to sit in a church and listen to someone who is a part of the system she was exposing.
Matt Carroll struggles to remain silent with details of the molestations because he feels the public’s safety is in question. These are two big ethical decisions that the journalists had to make in order to serve the greater good.
That is the truth that Marty Baron and Robby Robinson were so dedicated to reveal. Both men understand that this is more than a small story and the only way to incite change is to attack at the source. Their continual research and interviews prevailed as they eventually got confirmation from multiple reputable parties that high officials in the Catholic Church knew about the molestation scandals. Once these men knew, instead of stopping and doing the Christian thing, they covered it up and at times would even promote the accused.
What a story of this magnitude can give you is bigger than what it can take. It can take your faith in a religion, your sense of security or your trust in a brother. But when the story is done right, it brings you way more gratitude and a sense of accomplishment for being able to help someone who experienced tragedy.
The advocacy aspect of what the Spotlight team members did was tremendous. They published stories that gave thousands of other victims the confidence to speak out. It also inspired other news agencies to look closer into their own churches and as a result, revealed even more large scandals.
It is unfortunate to think that there are people who would exploit something as innocent as religion to abuse children. And it is these same men who lead communities in prayers about kindness and righteousness.
Nobody is above the law, and no story is too big or dangerous to pursue if it matters to you. That is the largest takeaway for the Spotlight team members: that the work that they do is helping the world to be a better place.