The film “Spotlight” is the retelling of the true story of how Spotlight, an investigative journalism team for the Boston Globe, covered and wrote the story of the multiple priests abusing children throughout the years in Boston and how the church was covering it up. The film starts in 2001 before 911, but it goes back many years. Robby Robinson, Sacha Pfeiffer, Mike Rezendes, and Matt Carrol are the members of the Spotlight team who are covering the story. Through hardship and struggle, the team would stop at nothing to investigate and bring the wrongdoings of the church into the spotlight.
The story starts when the Boston Globe received a new managing editor by the name of Marty Baron. He sees the story and puts Spotlight on the case. Their stories usually take multiple months up to years to investigate and write. These journalists gave up time, family relations, and their own well-being to write this story. As they investigate the story, the entire team had to keep it a complete secret, even to the rest of the Globe. No matter if the information could help people around them, they have to keep it top-secret until they can get the story out so that no leaks would happen.
One of the first scenes is a reenactment of what sets off this powder keg of a story. A mother reports her two boys being molested by a priest but is pushed into keeping it between them and the church. The scene is very important since it gives us a description of how the church silenced these reports. Marty Baron, the new managing editor of the Boston Globe walks into the story. When Robby Robinson, the editor for Spotlight, didn’t see many features for the story, Baron decided to push it more and put the Spotlight team on the case.
The next steps for the Spotlight team were to file a motion to get sensitive documents available to the public. These documents would be essential keys to this story. They provided conclusive evidence of the fact that the church was sweeping these incidents and the molesting of children under the rug. Down the story, almost every single person the team members went to for information or clearance tried to turn them away from the story. They would say that they should keep this between themselves or that it wasn’t a big deal. The story was so filled with the restrictions and the struggle to get information. Even so, the Spotlight team continued. Next, the team talked to a man by the name of Phil Saviano. Phil was the first survivor that the team talked to in person. He was a part of an organization called SNAP that was a support organization for the survivors of priest molestation. He told them his story and advised the team to seek out and talk to Richard Sipe. Richard Sipe was an ex-priest who married a nun and became a psychotherapist and author of six books about Catholicism.
Richard Sipe helped the Spotlight team members discover that there were over 90 priests in Boston abusing and molesting children, instead of the 13 they had suspected originally. The team starts to get more enemies and attract more tension as the story heats up. Just as the team is about to get the restricted documents that could make this story, 9/11 happened. The story was put aside so that all reporters could cover 9/11 for the next few weeks. The team picked it back up again when the important documents were finally released to the public. The team hurried to get the documents and finish the story before any other paper could. The documents ended up having multiple letters and verifications that high ranking clergy were hiding the fact that they knew about these crimes.
Baron told the team members that they couldn’t stop the story at just a few priests. They had to prove that this went through the whole church and to write the story about how deep those roots went. The team kept up their investigation, getting evidence that each of these 90 or so priests did these acts and that high-ranking officials of the Catholic Church were hiding it and putting these priests back into new churches. With this information found and the evidence from the documents, the story would be released after New Year’s. When the story came out, it gave hundreds of survivors the courage to call Spotlight and tell them their own stories and how they were abused. The Spotlight’s room of operation filled with the phone calls of survivors calling in.
In this movie, people learn and see the harsh reality of these cases. Most to all of them were pushed under the rug. People never had the chance to tell their stories. The Spotlight team members themselves may have lost things while pursuing the story. They may have lost friendships, faith, and relationships with their families. But they gained a lot from it. The team members got the satisfaction and knowledge that they brought wrongdoers to justice. Even though it should have been done sooner, the team members had finally brought the wrongdoings of the church into the spotlight and helped many survivors get closure as well as prevented many more children from experiencing the same fate.