Shining A Spotlight

Much like the movie “All the President’s Men,” which highlighted investigative journalism, “Spotlight” follows reporters from the Boston Globe’s Spotlight team as they begin to uncover a molestation cover-up in the Catholic Church. The film showcases all of the external and internal struggles these reporters faced while investigating such a sensitive story. Many of the reporters had Catholic backgrounds, and some of them knew a few of the priests who were identified as pedophiles. “It could have been you, it could have been me, it could have been any of us!” reporter Mike Rezendes said during the investigation.

A scene from Spotlight.

These Spotlight reporters were some of the best investigative reporters in the business. That didn’t mean they were immune from feeling the pain when learning the truth about such a horrible topic. In a very tense scene, Rezendes argues with editor Robby Robinson about when they should publish the story. When Robinson is wary about publishing the story too early, Rezendes gets upset. “It’s time, Robby! It’s time! They knew and they let it happen! To KIDS!” Rezendes said. “We gotta show people that nobody can get away with this. Not a priest, or a cardinal or a freaking pope!”

Rezendes’ outburst showed just how disturbed the team members were getting as they learned more about what was going on. The team members were shocked when the number of priests who had molested young boys reached 13, but were disgusted when the number reached nearly 90. Ben Bradlee Jr., who the Spotlight team reports to, was one such person. “90 fucking priests. In Boston!” Bradlee Jr. said.

While the Spotlight team shed light on what was really going on in the Catholic Church, the movie itself shed light on how hard reporters work to get the story. From July of 2001 until they published the story January 6, 2002, the Spotlight reporters had to live in the world of priests who were pedophiles and molesters.

One reporter, Matt Carroll, had to live knowing that there was a priest “treatment” center, that housed priests who had committed pedophilia, down the street from him and his children. Carroll made a note on his fridge telling his children to stay away from that particular house. Later, Carroll wants to tell the families in his neighborhood about it, but Robinson said no. “We’ll tell them soon,” Robinson said, meaning when the story is published.

In the end, after months of digging and discoveries, the Boston Globe reported that 87 priests in Boston’s Catholic Churches were pedophiles. The final scene in the movie is the inside of Spotlight’s office, where the phones are ringing off the hook. On the end of each phone was another victim or witness calling to share a story. In the following months, as many as 249 priests were identified.

In the ending credits, a list of over 200 cities from various countries are shown, each of which had reported cases of pedophilia and molestation in the Catholic Churches. Two hundred cities across the world with pedophilic priests. Without the work of the Spotlight reporters, these cases might never have been discovered. Some of the Boston cases had dated back to 1962.

The victims of these crimes had to live in silence out of fear. Fear that no one would believe them. Fear that the church would cover up their story as it had others. Fear that the people in their parish would turn their backs on them. But with the truth out publicly, they felt heard for the first time ever.