38. Spotlight

Nudniks say the press has liberal bias, but reporters (not columnists but actual reporters) are in the business of facts. Confirm. Verify. Scour documents. Interview witnesses who might not want to talk. It’s work.

Spotlight showcases the work. Powerful men have committed illegal acts and want the truth hidden, putting them directly opposed to city-level reporters.

The chilling line in Spotlight comes during a sermon, when the priest declares, as powerful people so often declare, that “Knowledge is one thing but faith, faith is another.” A Boston Globe reporter on the paper’s “Spotlight” team sits beside her nana, listening. After that she stops attending church.

“Knowledge is one thing but faith, faith is another.” He’s saying faith is better. No.

I cannot be objective about Spotlight. I spent my 20s as an editor and reporter in newsrooms, with my own desk in a room full of desks, working out-loud with friends I mostly respected, papers stacked everywhere and someone always on the phone. Making daily newspapers meant getting to court on time and arguing with clerks about making copies. It meant doors slammed in my face. Spotlight captures the job – details as tiny as their pens, their clothes, their boss hierarchy, their taking calls for quotes late at night. They go in person to accost lawyers who don’t return calls – an essential move because lawyers and reporters are natural enemies.

And then there’s the Mark-Ruffalo-for-Best-Supporting-Actor (he lost) clip, as reporter Mike Rezendes, yelling at his editor while their colleagues all watch: “We gotta nail these scumbags! We gotta show people, THAT NOBODY CAN GET AWAY WITH THIS!”

Ah, the yelling. Spotlight’s a movie, of course, taking cinematic liberties, but there’s anger with knowing your hard work to expose malfeasance might be wasted. If faith trumps knowledge, we’ve lost. Sometimes reporters want to yell their fucking lungs out.

Reporters are constantly lied to because powerful people do dirty deeds – could be sexual abuse by priests or corruption or murder – in the dark. They need it dark. Aggressive journalism is the light, how honest people fight. It can cure societal ills.



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