Spotlight – The Case for The Opposite of Clickbait

It spoils nothing to say that the last word uttered in the film is the title, representing the name of the investigative reporter team at the Boston Globe.

In steady, methodical and gripping style, the film Spotlight shows the power of investigative reporters pursuing a goal. In this case, whispers of clerical abuse in the Boston diocese triggered a journalistic investigation that shook the Boston power structure to its core. The effect rippled across America and then the globe; stay for the end credits to absorb the breadth of the damage uncovered. (The font used by the film makers is that which the Globe uses).

Michael Keaton in Spotlight. (Photo by Kerry Hayes - © 2015 - Open Road Films)

Michael Keaton in Spotlight. (Photo by Kerry Hayes – © 2015 – Open Road Films)

The press is understandably touting Spotlight for Academy Award recognition. Despite all journalists admittedly loving a film that makes heroes of their brethren, the film is truly a testament to integrity and the pursuit of truth.

Without ever uttering more than a passing reference to the internet (“our classified ad sales are down”), the clear implication of the film is that such a story today would be broken at the first bit of confirming evidence (and perhaps sooner).

In Spotlight, the sage strategy is instead to continue to gather evidence to see how far up the clerical ladder the cover up reached. That dogged confidence made for a far more explosive and complete story.

It is difficult to expect in this era of Swiftboating and clickbait that such in-depth reporting will be seen again; The Boston Globe published over 600 articles documenting the abuse.

Tom McCarthy co-wrote the screenplay and directs a stellar ensemble cast of Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Liev Schreiber, John Slattery, Brian d’Arcy James and Stanley Tucci. Each deserves recognition, but Keaton is especially brilliant.

This is a film that will be studied for years in journalism classes, and it deserves as broad an airing as possible.


Brad Auerbach has been covering the media, entertainment and technology scene for many years. He has written for Time Out London, Village Voice, LA Weekly and once upon a time won a New York State College Journalism Award.

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