Besides being a great film, Spotlight is an excellent example of investigative journalism. Nowadays, time is money, so news is churned out as quickly as possible. But, some stories take time or else they’re just speculation.
The first challenge the Spotlight team faced was deciding whether the story was worth their time. Was there truth to priests molesting children? To answer that
, they had to search for sources, which was difficult with a sensitive subject like molestation.
The spotlight team was sympathetic to victims, but asked the hard questions and explained why the answers were needed. For example, Sasha asking a source to describe exactly how a priest molested him and explaining that they needs specifics to build a strong story.
Once it was clear there was a pattern, they had to figure out how the church was getting away with it. That was even more difficult as it involved talking to church officials and lawyers, who have secrecy built into their professions. They had to be persistent and build rapport.
Next, they knew they were covering it up with independent mediatio
ns and by moving priests around, but they couldn’t prove it. So, their third challenge was bureaucracy, getting telling documents even if it meant suing the church to access them.
At this stage, 9/11 happened, which put the investigation on hold and made sources impatient. The Spotlight team had to be convincing, understanding, and quick when back on track.
Perhaps their greatest challenge of all was getting two lawyers to reveal things they weren’t legally supposed to. Near the end, the Spotlight team asks questions they know the lawyers can’t answer, but they need to confirm and strengthen the story.
Throughout their whole investigation, the Spotlight team faces social opposition and emotional attachment. Most of the time, they all keep their cool, but sometimes they need to lose it to get it back.
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