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The Suffolk Journal

Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

Globe writer casts spotlight on journalism works

By Facebook user Participant Media
By Facebook user Participant Media

Investigative journalism and Hollywood crossed paths at a recent event hosted by the Communication and Journalism and the Advertising, Public Relations, and Digital Media (ADPR) departments. Suffolk University had the honor of hosting a panel with The Boston Globe’s Mike Resendez, who was depicted in the Oscar award-winning film, Spotlight. Spotlight is a true story based off an investigation that took place in 2001 by The Boston Globe’s investigative reporting team Spotlight, in effort to expose years of sex abuse in the Catholic Church.

After a screening of “Spotlight” in the Modern Theatre on Thursday afternoon, a panel was held that was open to students with Resendez, Professor  and former journalist of the Globe’s Spotlight team, Bruce Butterfield and Dr. Bob Rosenthal, Chairman of the Communications Department.

The discussion began by Resendez talking about how a five-month investigation was condensed into a two-hour film. He said that the source material for the script was a case study about the investigation, written by a novelist.

“I thought, how can this be a movie when the most important moments were at my desk looking at documents,” Resendez said to a full audience of students and faculty.

The filmmakers did not glamourize the investigation, as many Hollywood movies do that are based on true stories. Resendez said that the film was accurate in “spirit and substance,” and said the film was “a cannonball back in time.” The filmmakers wanted to portray the journalists as accurately as possible, right down to the wardrobe and mentioned that the costume designer called him to talk about the type of clothes he wore. According to an interview with ABC News, Mark Ruffalo wore Resendez’s leather jacket, for what Resendez considered to be a “pivotal scene.”

While the victims’ stories were nothing short of “heartbreaking,” Resendez said his “growing outrage” kept him determined to find the truth. But he never thought the scandal would “engulf the entire world.” The Boston Globe reported that the scandal had spread to more than one hundred cities across the country and at least one hundred more around the world.

Butterfield expressed during the panel that the work done by Spotlight was “one of the greatest investigations in the history of the United States.”

The panel also talked about the importance of timing in journalism. The Catholic Church sex abuse scandal was what Resendez called a “rolling investigation.” The four-part series of  publications resulted in more reporting. The more they published, the more tips and information they received. The cover up made their work even more difficult.

“Things happen right under your eyes,” said Butterfield.

Resendez said in a post-panel interview with The Suffolk Journal that the work was tedious and emotionally exhausting, it did call for some changes in the Catholic Church after the story’s publication in January 2002. The following April, a conference for Catholic Bishops was held and the Charter for the Protection of Young People was set into motion. The Charter called for more transparency in the Catholic Church regarding the abuse of children. According to the United States Conference Catholic of Bishops, the Charter includes guidelines for reconciliation, healing, accountability and preventing future acts of abuse.

Resendez said that he does not know if the Catholic Church has followed through with these guidelines.

Resendez explained that being a good journalist is instinctual. He noted the importance of face-to-face interviews and said that in order to have a good interview, the journalist must create a comfortable atmosphere.

“You have to be naturally curious about people,” Resendez said.

Resendez said he always had an interest in people and their stories. While he was an English major at Boston University, he enjoyed reading newspapers and became a volunteer reporter at the East Boston Community News. At the time, East Boston, where Resendez is from, was facing problems such as drugs and arson. He wanted to “change the community through journalism” by reporting on these issues.

Resendez said he was happy with the film and said it was honest in that it did not depict the job as glamorous.

“It shows our imperfections, it shows us making mistakes, not as superheroes,” Resendez said.

As the discussion continued, the panelists always circled back to the importance of journalism, despite the sensitive subject matter that is reported on.

“It takes a certain spark to be a journalist,” said Rosenthal.    

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About the Contributor
Katie Dugan, Assistant Opinion Editor
Born in Manchester, New Hampshire, Katie Dugan is a recent graduate of 2017 who majored in public relations. She lists among her many non-academic accomplishments successfully raising her pet, a beta fish named Moses and greeting the nations first sunrise on two occasions on top of Cadillac mountain in Maine's Acadia national park. She enjoys running, especially when the race is over and while she lives to explore her adopted city of Boston, just don't ask her for directions to where anything is. Finally, Katie loves the written word and working for The Suffolk Journal and sees the upcoming administration in Washington DC as an unlimited supply of future content for her columns.

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Globe writer casts spotlight on journalism works