OPINION: ‘Spotlight’ win is a victory for all journalists

Abbey Marshall | Managing Editor

Abbey columnist pic (1)

Last year, CareerCast named “newspaper reporter” as the “worst job in America”. Going to college with the goal of becoming a journalist is becoming less and less common; the future for journalism oftentimes seems bleak.

As a student with the eager intent to major in journalism, this bothers me. I am told by skeptical relatives that I won’t get a job or make a decent living. I am told by die-hard conservatives that all media is slanted and is just a way to promote the liberal agenda. I am told by college grads that they once-upon-a-time began freshman year majoring in journalism but discovered there was no future in it. I always wanted to beat the odds, and planned on it, but that’s a tough thing to do when nearly everyone is telling me “no”.

In comes “Spotlight”. Directed by Tom McCarthy, this movie followed a 2001 team of investigative journalists in Boston responsible for uncovering the scandal of priests sexually abusing children. The movie was real; it didn’t glamorize the newsroom or make it anything more than what it is: hard, frustrating work. They were rejected by sources, denied permission to view legal documents, and had to overcome plenty of obstacles to print the story and expose the truth. This movie rejuvenated and affirmed my passion for journalism. I knew I wanted to do that important work, no matter how much money was in it for me.

I, among the rest of the journalistic world, rejoiced when “Spotlight” won the Academy Award for Best Picture. It was a nod of gratitude to those who grind away at the difficult task of daily journalism. We aren’t in it for the fame or the money or the acknowledgement, but this film brought up the importance of what we do. I know one movie will hardly change the entire national view of journalists, but perhaps it will alter the perception of the necessity of investigative reporting.

New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof tweeted, “Hoping Spotlight’s Best Picture win will result in not just applause for investigative reporting, but also in more resources invested in it.” Journalism is important. It holds people accountable. Unless more money and faith is put into the work we do, it will become more and more difficult to expose the wrongs in the world. Being a journalist is one of the most selfless jobs; it is about telling the truth and asking nothing in return.

I commend the real-life journalists who inspired the story of “Spotlight” and all those still fighting for the field of investigative reporting.

 

Originally published in The Chronicle on March 11, 2016.

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