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Editorial: ‘Spotlight’ on Press Freedom

Last week was free speech week, which celebrates the First Amendment freedoms we sometimes take for granted, though journalists probably less so than most given that it is our sword and shield.

Starting next month, a compelling argument for why it is so important to protect, by law, the ability of the public’s representatives, in this case the news media, to tell truth to power, comes in the form of Spotlight, a new film that chronicles the un-glamorous work that went into the The Boston Globe’s series of stories uncovering the priest sexual abuse scandal.

The Motion Picture Association of America hosted a screening of the film as its shout-out to free speech. In introducing the movie at the screening in Washington, MPAA VP of legal affairs Ben Sheffner said, “Today it seems virtually unthinkable that the government could censor news reports or movies because it disapproves of their message. But it’s important to remember that this was not always the case.”

Spotlight doesn’t portray journalists as heroes, but as flawed, hard-working people doing a difficult job well. That is encomium enough.