BY DAHLIA DEHAAN // APRIL 28, 2016 //
The 2015 film “Spotlight” portrays how Boston Globe journalists uncovered the massive scandal of child molestation and cover-up within the Boston Archdiocese.
On Monday, April 25, the former editor of the Spotlight team at the Boston Globe, Walter Robinson, visited Curry College to speak following a showing of the movie in the Keith Auditorium. “Spotlight” won the 2016 Academy Award for Best Picture, in which Robinson is played by actor Michael Keaton.
The panel discussion, organized by Professor Jeff Lemberg of the Communication Department and Professor Jen Balboni of the Criminal Justice Department, was opened up to the audience, which included Curry students and faculty.
Questions led Robinson into an explanation of how the movie “Spotlight” shows how journalism is done. He explained how a journalistic assignment on one sexually abusive priest in Boston turned into the discovery of a sexual abuse and church cover-up phenomenon on a global scale, comparing the scandal to Watergate, in that the institutional cover-up was worse than the crime itself.
When asked how the Spotlight team was able to keep pushing for the story despite huge hurdles to overcome, Robinson replied that the Spotlight team was “motivated by anger” at the scandal.
Freshman Communication major Kelsey Davis, who attended the event, called it “educational and interesting….I think that hearing from someone who experienced it firsthand was fascinating.”
During the panel discussion, Robinson called the film “amazingly accurate” in portraying what happened at the Boston Globe during this investigation, including the evidence of the scandal in the form of documents, which Robinson called “almost verbatim.”
Robinson stated the statistic that 10.75 percent of all priests abused children over a 50-year period. The Spotlight team identified 249 priests just in the city of Boston guilty of sexually abusing children; 75-85 percent of them boys.
Balboni commented that “it was an honor to have Walter “Robby” Robinson, whose character was a central focus in the film,” come and speak to the Curry community. “It is heartening that this outstanding movie has received the national accolades it so deeply deserved, and it was great to share this screening with the Curry community.”
On the morning of Sunday, Jan. 6, 2002, the Spotlight team published the first article describing the scandal. When asked by a student what sort of emotions he was experiencing that morning, Robinson stated: “It was like our world blew up.”