Break the Story, Break the Silence: Spotlight and its Oscar Win


In 2002, criminal charges were brought against five Roman Catholic priests in Boston and the surrounding area. The charges were for sexual abuse and molestation of minors. The ongoing coverage of these cases by The Boston Globe's "Spotlight" team pushed the issue of "sexual abuse of minors by Catholic priests" into the national limelight. The increased publicity and coverage of these cases resulted in more victims coming forward with their allegations, resulting in more arrests and subsequent justice. 
In 2003, the series of articles published by The Boston Globe received a Pulitzer Prize for Public Service. According to Pulitzer's website, The Globe was honored "for its courageous, comprehensive coverage ... an effort that pierced secrecy, stirred local, national and international reaction and produced changes in the Roman Catholic Church."

In 2015, a movie by the name of "Spotlight" was released on November 6th in the United States. The film stars Michael Keaton, Lieb Schreiber, Rachel McAdams, Mark Ruffalo, Stanley Tucci, Brian d'Arcy James and John Slattery. Keaton, Ruffalo, McAdams, and d'Arcy James make up the Spotlight team, and Schrieber plays their Editor, Marty Baron. Throughout the course of several months, the team investigates and reports on the misdemeanors and offenses perpetrated by the Catholic Church in the Boston area. As they dig deeper and deeper, they realize how important it is for the story--and the truth--to be told. 


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A relatively new family tradition of mine is to view a historical film on Christmas Day. As Jews, we do not truly partake in the festivities of a typical December 25th, so we head to the movie theater. This year, we chose "Spotlight". 
As a journalist, I had always been interested in seeing this movie. My mother was equally so, and my sister--oh, who knows. However, I do know that all three of us ended up falling in love with this film. 
"Spotlight" was by far my favorite movie of 2015 and is definitely in contention for my favorite movie period. The story was so well told, the newsroom so alive, the investigation so gripping, the acting so riveting...it was a masterpiece. 

The thing about "Spotlight" is that it encompasses so much more than just the film itself. I walked out of the theater with a passionate drive to instigate change in the world and share stories that need to be shared. As a result of this, I hurriedly emailed my journalism teacher in hopes of landing a story that required serious investigative work and could potentially uncover scandal. Here was the email:


Hi!

I know we aren't signing up for stories  quite yet, but I was wondering if I could make my case for wanting to be on the Title IX story.



Over the break, I saw Spotlight. The movie focuses on a very intense aspect of investigative journalism that has never struck me quite like this. The subtitle of the movie is "Break the silence. Break the story." That quote also hit me hard.



I plan on pursuing journalism after high school, in fact, it's really the only career I see for myself. Whether it's sportscasting, editorials, production in a newsroom, or investigative journalism, I don't quite know yet.



But I do want to try to take a crack at this story and the investigative journalism that comes along with it.

I want a story and a project much bigger than myself, something that requires work and digging and queries and curiosity.



Title IX sounds like it could fulfill my needs on those lines.



Thanks so much,

Zoe



Most movies are fictitious works of someone's imagination. In many films that are adapted based off of something that happened in real life, people easily forget that the stories being told are real. I hope to God no one does that with "Spotlight". 

What was so incredible about the journalists from the Boston Globe--Matt Carrol, Sacha Pfeiffer, and Mike Rezendes, edited by Walter V. Robinson--is that they had the courage to risk it all to expose the ugly, painstaking truth. A truth that exposed that the Catholic archdiocese was no perfect, holy place. It was an institution home to molestation, rape, lies and scars. A truth that in Boston, a predominantly Catholic city, would bring the wrath of hell upon The Boston Globe and it's Spotlight team. 

They were ready. Their job was to break the story--to break the silence.


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Last night, the Academy Awards saw many relevant social justice themes: Chris Rock's monologues, #OscarsSoWhite, Leonardo DiCaprio's plug for indigenous people and climate change. "Spotlight" joined this list when the film won Best Picture at the very end of the night. I nearly cried. 

“This film gave a voice to survivors and this Oscar amplifies that voice, which we hope will become a choir that will resonate all the way to the Vatican,” said “Spotlight” producer Michael Sugar as he accepted the award. 

The Boston Globe and the Spotlight team gave a voice to so many who were suffering. "Spotlight" thrust the issue back into the national limelight more than a decade later. Now it is up to us, creatives and dreamers and thinkers and innovators and change-makers, to speak for those who do not have a voice. To share the stories that need to be shared. To be the change that needs to be made.

Break the story. Break the silence. And congratulations to "Spotlight" on its Oscar wins! 

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Actor Mark Ruffalo is pictured protesting in front of a Los Angeles Catholic Church hours prior to the Academy Awards. Ruffalo portrayed Mike Rezendes, a journalist on the Spotlight team. 


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