Spotlight on journalism

The main intention behind the film had always been to depict the real “power of the newsroom”

Hasan Ansari March 07, 2016

ISLAMABAD: Adapting any source material to film or stage can prove to be a real hassle, especially when the task is being undertaken in an industry like Hollywood where the charm of the box office is enough to tempt any film-maker to stray from their primary objective -- a compelling storytelling.

It is a real tragedy that despite the thrills, drama and captivating stories that the world of journalism has to offer not many movies had been made on the subject – a trend which director Todd McCarthy somehow manages to rectify with his latest outing Spotlight (2015). The movie, which won the Academy Award for Best Film, chronicles the real-life efforts of a team of investigative journalists (Spotlight) at The Boston Globe as they explore the world of child sex abuse by numerous priests in the Boston region. Following the film’s release its director had opened up, to Creative Screenwriting, about why he had been driven towards the subject matter in the first place. The main intention behind the film had always been to depict the real “power of the newsroom”.

All of which brings us to the question: Can Spotlight do to journalism what All the President’s Men (1976) did for the profession? Often credited for popularising this line of work, the movie is often listed as a must-watch for students and journalists who are starting out, as it alerts them on the travails that are bound to accompany their field of choice.

With the media landscape having been transformed completely during the course of the past forty years and the newsroom, now moving at light-speed due to the rise of multiple social media platforms, coupled with the growing popularity of millennial publications, the focus from investigative journalism seems to have shifted towards a ‘breaking news’ culture.

In the age of listicles and click-baiting, Spotlight serves as an excellent reminder about the importance of investigative reporting and how it can be a catalyst for change. The work is a throwback to the older days of film-making. Despite boasting of an assembly of top-class performers it is the movie’s gripping narrative that makes it an engrossing watch. By offering audiences a peek into the mind of a reporter and the decision-making process that often precedes the tough calls being made by bureau chiefs and editors, Spotlight succeeds in humanising professionals often bracketed in the category of pen-pushers or gossip mongers.

Only four months on from its release the movie is already part of IMDb’s Top 250. Not only is it an excellent education on the world of journalism but may also be an endearing view for some of the field’s seasoned professionals – one that may help rekindle their romance with the newsroom.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 8th, 2016.


Jahanzeb Tahir | 5 years ago | Reply Brilliantly put Hasan. Great read.
Cinemagoer | 5 years ago | Reply Truly a remarkable film.
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