Putting the spotlight on Spotlight

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Photo by KERRY HAYES/IMDB

The movie Spotlight was released in 2015, and follows the true story about Boston Globe reporters uncovering the accusations of Catholic priests molesting children. The film won an Academy Award for Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay.

Rachel McAdams plays Sacha Pfeiffer, one of the reporters on the Spotlight team. I admired her character the most in the film because of her determination to uncover the story, respect for those she interviews, and her style of interviewing.

Pfeiffer interviewed a victim of molestation in the film, and I can’t imagine how difficult it would be to talk about this sensitive topic. I can only imagine myself brushing off specific questions, not because I don’t want to uncover the story, but because I wouldn’t want to upset the victim I’m interviewing. I admire how when the discussion got heavy, she kept asking the victim for specific details in a respectful manner, explaining to the victim how important it was to expose the facts to the world. Pfeiffer also comforts the victim when he gets upset about something, and I appreciate her persistence and respect.

In one scene, Pfeiffer is shown phoning the victim to get clarification on whether he went to see a lawyer. This question alone was so important in uncovering the story and his answer would affect her investigation. As a first-year journalism student, I know it can be scary to interview people, but I really liked that Pfeiffer wanted to get all of her facts right and digs for more and more information on the case.

In another scene, Pfeiffer is shown going door to door around Boston to talk to accused priests. This was another situation that would take a lot of courage. Going door to door would be time consuming, but Pfeiffer didn’t give up and even ended up talking to a priest for a short period of time. The priest revealed that he was raped himself, and Pfeiffer takes the information back to the Spotlight team to help uncover the case further.

I’m not sure if there is such a thing as an ‘ideal journalist’. You certainly have to have a sense of determination, respect, and will to uncover a story. You also have to know your boundaries. I think Sacha Pfeiffer has the right combination of all of these traits. She doesn’t hide from details or specifics. Instead her determination shines through to tell the victims story respectfully, and is a role model for any beginner journalist to look up to.

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