There are two ways to approach Spotlight: one is as a major tipping point in the exposé of the Catholic Church’s cover-up of the thousands of children abused at its hands of its Priests, and the other as a look at what could have very well been the last major piece of traditional investigative journalism before 9/11 and social media changed everything. For me, it is definitely that latter of the two and I found it very interesting to see just how much journalism has changed in 15 years.
On the surface, 15 years may not seem like that long of a time. For me, the events of this movie were taking place while I was enjoying my first year of University, and that really doesn’t seem that long ago. In reality, however, almost everything about how we view the world has changed in those 15 years; the phrase ‘post 9/11’ is now practically outdated, the 24hr news cycle has increased the rate and impact of events to instantaneous moments, and social media rules everything around us.
By comparison to the hyper-connectivity of today’s blogosphere, the team of journalists in Spotlight look positively quaint with the only real tech available to them being flip-phones and some very clunky looking laptops. At this point in time, landlines and old school tube monitors ruled the newsroom, and it is almost funny when the team suggests adding a URL address to the end of the story as an afterthought for those who wish to learn more online.
Without even knowing it, the Boston Globe’s ‘Spotlight’ team is living in what is essentially the end times of traditional journalism, and as the events of 9/11 unfold, their entire industry is being transformed around them. It is this hindsight that makes Spotlight so interesting; we know how it is going to play out, we know that newspapers will begin to die one by one, and we are asked to question whether this level of journalism will die with them.
To me, Spotlight is an excellent if somewhat conventional movie that deserves a good watch from anyone who is interested in the dedication and commitment it takes to really get to the truth. There is nothing really new about what it is doing, but what it does, it does well. I don’t think it has the juice to win the big prize on Oscar night, but I would recommend you check it out when it hits the digital services. If nothing else, it is great to see Michael Keaton back on the screen in a big way!