Back to the New Parkway for a film and some Line 51 IPA. I saw Spotlight with my friend L and my journalist friend M. Spotlight is a love letter to investigative journalism. Spotlight is a movie about institutions and institutions protecting themselves at all costs. Spotlight is not a movie about disgusting Catholic priests sexually abusing children. The viewer doesn’t feel the beating hearts of the bad guys or the innocents. The viewer feels the beating heart of the journalists. Spotlight is not a bummer movie.
Can I be a journalist now? I want to scour through musty records and connect the dots. I want to bribe court clerks to use their copy machine. I want to out smarty pants almost everyone. I want to be wrong and then wrong again and then so right. I want to write 600 stories that change the world. I want to be out of breath from the passion of my career.
My small quibble with the film is that there are too many yet too few scenes about struggling to load dishwasher, the family man’s refrigerator, the sad bachelor’s microwave, the attempt to round out the journalists’ characters as told with appliances as props. The movie was too long and if they cut all that out, it wouldn’t be missed.
My friend M explained the budget challenges of investigative journalism, how so much time and money goes toward something that could be nothing. Anya Schiffren global muckraker and director of the International Media, Advocacy and Communications specialization at Columbia University’s School of International Affairs says as newspapers are struggling with lay offs of journalists here in the U.S., investigative journalism is getting bigger and better around the world. She writes, “Despite a long run of journalistic tough times, the loss of advertising dollars, and the challenge of the Internet, there’s been a blossoming of investigative journalism across the globe from Honduras to Myanmar, New Zealand to Indonesia.” Injustice won’t stop, investigating and writing about it won’t either.
My friend M said that the closest she’s come to investigative journalism is with a la story she’s working on now, a project called Undocumented Lives. She said that in shadowing an undocumented high school student she learned that the girl’s mother had died before her eyes in an Immigration raid. The girl is working as hard as she can get an education and help others. Can I be M now? M is a badass.