Washington Post editor Martin Baron usually falls asleep during the Academy Awards, but this year he will have to stay awake. That's because he will be inside the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood as part of the contingent for "Spotlight." In the movie about the Boston Globe investigation into Catholic priest sexual abuse and the Boston church's cover-up, he is portrayed by Liev Schreiber.
It's not about the statuette, the former LA Times reporter and editor writes for the Post.
The movie has been nominated for six Oscars, including best picture. And, journalistic objectivity be damned, I’m hoping it wins the entire lot. I feel indebted to everyone who made a film that captures, with uncanny authenticity, how journalism is practiced and, with understated force, why it’s needed.
The awards take the form of a statuette, recognition for outstanding moviemaking. The rewards of this film matter more to me, and they will take longer to judge.
The rewards will come if this movie has impact: On journalism, because owners, publishers and editors rededicate themselves to investigative reporting. On a skeptical public, because citizens come to recognize the necessity of vigorous local coverage and strong journalistic institutions. And on all of us, through a greater willingness to listen to the powerless and too-often voiceless, including those who have suffered sexual and other abuse.
Aside from the acclaim of critics, “Spotlight” already has delivered one gratifying result. In emails, tweets and Facebook posts, journalists have declared themselves inspired, buoyed and affirmed. That is no small matter in this badly bruised profession. We have felt the traumatizing financial effect of the Internet and been berated by just about everyone, especially politicians in a campaign season that has seen us cynically labeled “scum.”
One of his revelations in the piece is that the film's writers, Tom McCarthy and Josh Singer, really did their leg work in researching what had happened during the investigation by the Globe.
Josh and Tom knew more about what happened at the Globe than I did. Reading the screenplay, I learned a few things. I had been clueless about reservations or recalcitrance among the staff about pursuing the investigation. When I started as the Globe’s editor, I had no sources in that newsroom. No one filled me in later, either.