The Boston Globe assigned a team of journalists in 2001 to investigate allegations against a priest accused of molesting several underage boys in Boston. As the investigation goes on, the case just got more complex, almost 6% of all priests in Boston had either molested or had performed sexual actions with underage boys. Spotlight, a movie directed by Tom McCarthy quickly gained popularity and won several prices such as the “Best Original Screenplay” award in 2015 for its great ability to recall a story not based upon previously published material. The Boston Globe team had known of similar cases surrounding priests molesting children, but they never gave the incidents a lot of attention. I am going answer question 6 and 9 from the “Study worksheet for Spotlight” in this post, as well as address some of my own thoughts surrounding this topic.
The Boston Globe is known for doing investigative journalism surrounding different cases from around the world. Instead of just making a small news coverage, they try to gather as much information as possible, and fully investigate the case. As the team kept on working on this case, the problem just seemed to expand and never stop. After a lot of investigation, the team figured there were approximately 90 abusive priests just in Boston itself. They contacted a lot of the victims and talked to them about the incidents. By doing this investigation, they exposed on only the priests in Boston, but priests from all around the world who had molested underage children.
The movie portrays the molesters as normal priests, and they make it clear that most of the priests didn’t want the boys to suffer. In one of the scenes in the movie, a journalist from Boston Globe knocks on one of the priest’s door and asks if the had molested underage boys. He quickly answered yes, without any hesitation, followed up by him clarifying that none of the boys here harmed. This is of course the priest’s point of view, and many, including the victims meant they had been harmed not only physically, but mentally. Many of the victims had been through rough times after the incidents and some of them still to this day struggle to move on. The movie ends with a list of all the places where priests had molested children, and the list was not short to say the least. It included priests ranging all the way from England, Norway and Sweden, to Spain, Argentina, Brazil and several other countries. This was a common problem that almost never got addressed in the media.
The movie reveals that the Boston Globe had got a list in 1993 with 20 priests who had molested underage boys, but they never followed up on this, until later, when they realised how big of a problem this was. Many would try to hide this mistake, but Baron, the leader of Boston Globe’s team, commends him and his team to expose the crimes as soon as they have all the information they need. This is an important lesson for the viewer, to not hide the mistake you did when the right thing to do is to expose it. They did not try to hide it when they realised they did a mistake by not investigating this earlier. The viewer can apply this lesion to their own lives. When someone makes a mistake, we must give them a chance to make it better again, not shame them for what they didn’t do.