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Blye Pagon Faust ’97 helps bring Spotlight to the big screen, adding a renewed focus on cases of sexual abuse by clergy

The crowd that filled the CinéArts Theater in Santana Row on November 2 had good reason to attend the sold-out preview screening ofSpotlight, the true story of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Boston Globe investigation that uncovered numerous cases of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church in Boston in 2002.  Members of the SCU community, family, and friends came to celebrate the work of one of their own, Blye Pagon Faust ’97, who co-produced the film.  Many also stayed after the film to participate in Q&A facilitated by Barbara Kelley, senior lecturer in Communication, Michael Whalen, Knight-Ridder/San Jose Mercury News Professor of Communication, and Thomas Plante, Augustin Cardinal Bea, S.J. University Professor of Psychology (l-r in photo by Joanne Lee).

In his remarks, Plante anticipated that the film would likely receive focused attention not only because of the high-profile of its subject matter, but also because of the powerful performances of its cast.  This, he cautioned, would cause the “reopening of old wounds that never go away but that become reinjured.”   He lauded Boston Globe’s Spotlight investigative reporting team for “absolutely changing the world” when it brought this crisis to light in 2002.  But he, like some members of the audience, regretted the fact that these revelations took so long to emerge, particularly since many in academia had been sounding off the alarm since the 1980s.  “At the end of the day, academics can only go so far, so we do need the media to connect the dots.  It is thanks in large part to the efforts of the Spotlight team that the church and the community are safer today,” Plante said.

Whalen asked fellow Communication academic Kelley, also a freelance journalist, if the in-depth, long-term investigative reporting conducted by the Spotlight team exists in today’s rapid news cycle. “Sadly, no. The biggest problem is money.  Editorial staffs are cut too thin, and most of these professionals are required to constantly update their online content and maintain their social media presence; there is just no time to do this kind of reporting.”  She referred to a census by the American Society of News Editors showing a total of 54,400 of editorial staff in 2002, when the Boston Globe broke the story, compared to the 32,900 professionals working in American newsrooms today.

Pagon Faust had to attend a competing event from the Producers Guild of America, but Whalen concluded the evening by thanking her for “bringing this story to film and for her dedication to social justice filmmaking.”

Read a related article recently published by Thomas Plante in Psychology Today.