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Renowned journalist visits campus for advanced screening of ‘Spotlight’

“Spotlight” tells the story of the Boston Globe’s investigation into the Catholic Church.

The latest film from writer and director Tom McCarthy places the important of the truth front and center.

“Spotlight,” screened at the Pearl Theatre Nov. 11, is based on the true story of how the Boston Globe uncovered the abuse of children by priests in the Catholic Church and the subsequent coverup by the Archdiocese of Boston in 2002.

“The stories we did were very important to us,”the Globe’s editor-at-large Walter Robinson told The Temple News. “It never occurred to us that someone would make a movie about how journalists make the sausage.”

Robinson was part of a four-person team of journalists called Spotlight, which investigated a number of stories for the Boston Globe. Robinson was the editor of Spotlight during the Catholic Church investigations.

Robinson is portrayed by Michael Keaton in the film, with Mark Ruffalo playing Mike Rezendes, Rachel McAdams playing Sacha Pfeiffer, Liev Schreiber playing Marty Baron and John Slattery playing Ben Bradlee, Jr.

“The story’s had an enormous impact farther than anything we imagined,” Robinson said. “We started out looking at one priest. It’s extraordinary.”

The movie, Robinson said, focused on the first story that was uncovered, but the team wrote 600 stories in 2002. He said McCarthy set out to make a film about journalism, but he let audiences see what happened to thousands of children through a reporter’s eyes.

“It’s important to remember that this is more about children and what happened [to them],” Robinson said.

More than 50 Temple students attended the free screening and Q&A afterward.

“I want to see this for the investigative side,” said Trenae Nuri, an alumna. “I took an investigative journalism course at the New England Center for Investigative Journalism and I want to see how they took on such a controversial case.”

She also said this film helped her understand how the investigation was funded, the feedback they received and how much it takes to complete an investigation of this magnitude.

Dean David Boardman, who moderated the screening and Q&A, said the film company Open Road Films reached out to him and asked if he’d be willing to screen the movie.

“They’re doing this for a lot of colleges and universities,” Boardman said. “And [Robinson is] a great friend of mine, so I thought, ‘Why not get him out here for a Q&A?’”

Boardman hadn’t seen the film and was glad to see the students’ responses and interactions with Robinson.

“This is exactly what I hoped for,” Boardman said. “That we would have a wonderful turnout, that the film would be great and that our students would ask wonderful questions.”

Boardman also stressed that he wanted students to be reminded of the power of journalism and how it can “right wrongs in a way that nothing else can.”

After the film, many students asked Robinson questions like, “What would have happened if your source never confirmed the list that you had?”

Many students said they loved the film and are inspired to continue pursuing journalism.

“I really enjoyed the film,” said Nydja Hood, a sophomore journalism major with a broadcast focus. “It helped me realize why I decided to go with journalism in the first place.”

Hood added she was especially inspired by Robinson, and she hopes to “make waves” in the journalism industry just as he has.

“There are many challenges out there for reporters,” Boardman said. “But it’s worth it.”

Ashley Caldwell can be reached at

Editor’s note: Nydja Hood is a former freelance writer for The Temple News. She did not play a role in the editing process of this article.

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