I couldn’t have been prouder for my chosen profession (Version II) when this year’s Best Picture Award went to the film ‘Spotlight’ at the MPAA Academy Awards show last month. After watching the film earlier this year, I felt the zeal for what I do very similar to the enthusiasm I did back in the day when I donned the badge and saw a movie like Colors, To Live and Die in L.A. or End of Watch.
Since I’m PERSONALLY done being a participant in car chases, crashes, armed confrontations, gang fights and the like, a nonfictional crime drama about a scandal unveiled by investigative journalism does the trick now to get my juices flowing.
I’m definitely not saying I’ve covered anything as close to a story as a runaway success as the Catholic Church child abuse sex scandal uncovered by the Boston Globe while I’ve been with the Leader/News/Times, but the movie got things spot-on, providing an accurate picture of how reporters break big stories and some of the fallout – at times within your own office – that occurs when reporting on what could be a controversial and touchy topic.
When watching the movie I identified with the frustrations, occasional grind of waiting for that phone call to be returned, and adrenaline kick that goes into covering every great investigative story – usually written a la a police report narrative I’m told by some of the readers.
Since I’m normally not the one to cover all the rainbow-unicorn-warm and fuzzy stories around town, there were also identifiable moments of the community mutterings, shunning, perceived advertiser reaction followed by social media blasting that have tried to influence the content of stories. Knowing that some stories can be emotionally charged, I’ve become somewhat calloused to them compared to my editor or GM. (It’s nice having that guaranteed pension check.)
There are other very positive aspects not publicized in film of working at the Leader/News/Times. The support, camaraderie, and reliability I’ve experienced here are compared to no other previous employer … and you’d think a place where your safety was dependent on a coworker that one would rank higher.
The solidarity and cooperation between my fellow reporters and even our office staff is remarkable at the Leader/News/Times office. In the newsroom, we each have our assigned duties, often times covering for each other or helping out when one is overwhelmed with assignments. I don’t know if large newspapers like the Globe have that, but I can attest that here, with our small group, it enhances the work experience of journalism.
Yes, we have our spats time-to-time, but they are usually forgotten, in lieu of the next topic of the day. Quirks; there are a few, including the office getting accustomed to my shortcoming of no tactful filter at times or my lack of an inside voice when expressing excitement over a story or topic.
The Leader/News/Times may not be the big leagues like The Globe, but the game here is the same played by the same rules.
In her Oscar acceptance speech on Feb. 29, Spotlight producer Blye Pagon Faust said, “We would not be here today without the heroic efforts of our reporters … Not only do they effect global change, but they absolutely show us the necessity for investigative journalism.”
My mantra carrying on for a controversial piece: WWBGD. What Would the Boston Globe Do?
Richard Paloma is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News, and The Escalon Times. He may be reached at email@example.com or by calling 847-3021.