By Donna Francavilla, RTDNA News
Hundreds of attendees at Excellence in Journalism 2016 turned out to hear words of wisdom from a new hero in the investigative journalism world. Marty Baron, who is portrayed as an indefatigable editor in the 2015 Oscar-winning movie, Spotlight, revealed how his staff at the Boston Globe uncovered sealed documents to publish 900 explosive and exhaustively researched stories about Catholic priests sexually abusing children and the church hierarchy that covered it up.
Baron was editor of the Globe when it chased the priest abuse stories and was portrayed by Liev Schreiber in the movie. Kirsten Lundberg, former head of the Columbia case studies project, quizzed Baron about the work that exposed a crisis in the Catholic Church, the film it inspired and the state of investigation.
Baron encouraged more street reporting and cultivation of sources. “Street reporting, talking face-to-face, and even just talking on the phone seem to be lost arts in journalism.”
The investigation by the Globe’s “Spotlight” team captured a Pulitzer Prize for Public Service, and inspired a Columbia University case study.
“Every reporter should be an investigative reporter,” Baron told attendees at the EIJ Super Session. He remarked on the negative impact of newspaper budget cuts in the years since the Boston Globe conducted its investigation.
“We are supposed to hold powerful institutions and powerful individuals accountable. Our loyalty is not to our sources; our loyalty is to our readers."
Baron joined the Washington Post as executive editor Jan. 1, 2013, after almost 12 years as editor of the Boston Globe. He has also served as editor of the Miami Herald and held top editing positions at the Los Angeles Times and the New York Times. He was named editor of the year by Editor & Publisher magazine in 2001, and editor of the year by the National Press Foundation in 2004.