Spotlight on Journalism at Ud
By Saranac Hale Spencer
March 22, 2016
|Boston Globe editor at-large Walter Robinson speaks at Mitchell Hall at the University of Delaware on Tuesday evening. Robinson was part of the investigative team featured in the movie "Spotlight," that exposed the sex abuse scandal in the Catholic Church.|
Walter Robinson, who led the Boston Globe's investigative team that broke the story about sexual abuse in the Catholic Church, has been getting emails from new victims every week since the movie “Spotlight” came out in November.
He's learned that movies can sometimes have more impact than the written word, Robinson said in a speech he gave at the University of Delaware’s Mitchell Hall on Tuesday night about the movie that dramatized the paper's investigation.
That's a humbling admission for someone who has worked in newspapers his whole life. Robinson, a tall, white-haired man who speaks with a thick New England accent, is 70 and is now an editor-at-large for the Globe.
The reaction to the initial stories was huge, he said, noting the end of the movie depicted what actually happened when the reporters came in to work and were inundated with phone calls from victims who wanted to tell their stories. The Globe heard from 300 victims and they interviewed every one of them.
But, the movie has already provoked a much stronger reaction, he said.
Not only has he heard from hundreds more people who had been abused, but the church itself is embracing the story and encouraging parishioners to watch it. The movie could get a church that moves at a "glacial pace" to quicken and make reforms, he said.
The stories he and his small team wrote back in the early 2000s brought to light the pervasive child abuse and institutional concealment in the church, which had been a powerful political and moral behemoth. They spawned hundreds of other stories across the country and around the world as other newspapers investigated the archdioceses in their cities.
"Good reporting is often the only light that illuminates life’s darkest corners” Robinson told the crowd, which was largely college students.
Although newsrooms across the country have been hollowed – the Globe had 550 people in the newsroom in 2000 and has 315 today – he told aspiring journalists not to abandon the trade. "Nothing is more fun," he said.
Contact Saranac Hale Spencer at (302) 324-2909, firstname.lastname@example.org