Film Panel Preview: “Spotlight”

Journalists shine a light on systematic crime in Boston in the Academy Award winning film “Spotlight.”

A film panel will follow a screening of the movie as part of the Media Arts Department films series “Journalism: Ethics or Profit?” hosted by the Film Club in the Great Hall on Nov. 30 from 2 to 5 p.m.

Cinema and journalism instructor Robert O’Neil said the movie showcases a sensitive topic, depicting journalists who are uncovering the pedophile priests scandal in America. He said the movie fits the festival theme of ethics in journalism.

“Students who come to our event will gain respect for journalist who aren’t looking for sensational stories or headlines, but uncovering wrong doings,” O’Neil said.  

O’Neil said that that those journalists showed courage and worked hard to print the truth.  

“They are working really hard because there are fewer and fewer of them out there, and newspapers are getting smaller,” O’Neil said. “I hope there is a new appreciation for the hard work that reporters do by not trying to make people look good or bad, but to print the truth.”

Assistant professor of cinema Ken Windrum said that the journalists are discouraged to cover the story because of the power the involved people possess.  

“There are millions of Catholics in the United States. In Boston, where the story broke, the church is very powerful. Many of the people in the newspaper had close ties to the church and were even active members,” Windrum said.  

Windrum said journalists are often threatened, and their ethics are challenged.

“Anytime you have an issue where you have powerful people that are threatened, journalist are often threatened to not to put the story out for the profit of their newspaper. I hope students are able to learn that journalism just doesn’t come out of a void, and that its made by people who make decisions, debate and have pressures. I hope they get a greater understanding of the ethics in journalism and how that the profit motive could fight against the ethics of good journalism.”  

Vice President of the Film Club Andrew Shektah said the movie demonstrates values of journalism while uncovering a big scandal in history.  

“Students that go to the event will gain the knowledge of a true story that actually happened and see the value of what these journalists did: the risk, careers, title and even their lives to uncover what was a very disturbing truth people were denying in the Catholic church,” Shektah said.