“Our loyalty is not to our sources — it is to our readers.”
Marty Baron, editor of The Washington Post and former editor of the Boston Globe, kept his loyalty to readers in one of the most controversial stories in news reporting. In 2002, Baron and his staff published a series of stories that revealed three decades of sexual abuse of children by Catholic clergy, and the church hierarchy’s failure to take appropriate action. Their findings inspired the Oscar-winning film, Spotlight and a Columbia University case study.
On Sunday, Baron sat down with Kirsten Lundberg, former head of the Columbia case studies project to discuss his work in exposing the crisis, and how it led to the creation of Spotlight.
The focus of the Globe’s Spotlight team was to expose corruption within the Church for failing to reassign the clergies’ roles after becoming aware of abused children.
Boston Globe published the series over fourteen years ago, at the beginning of the technology outburst. Baron noted that even with the ample amount of technology to tell stories, journalists still need to be interactive in cultivation of community sources, going to see people in person and picking up the phone and calling them. “These days I believe [street reporting] is a bit of a lost art. Reporters spend so much time in the office.”
If journalists want to hone other skills such as digging-deeper with investigative journalism, Baron stressed to detect the hidden dimension behind the news and to not see every element at face value. He also said journalists must maintain independence from their community.
Baron offers more advice for aspiring investigative journalists. Along with taking related course work and getting involved with internships, he recommends to be persistent and inquisitive, and always be looking for unanswered questions.