It’s the movie that everyone’s talking about. Spotlight, which just won Best Picture at the 2016 Oscars, is the true story following The Boston Globe‘s investigative journalist unit that uncovered a sexual abuse scandal within the Archdiocese of Boston. After running a series of stories in 2002, the team was honored with a Pulitzer Prize for Public Service in 2003. Notoriety quickly followed and on November 6, 2015, Spotlight, the movie chronicling the events leading up to the publication of the stories, hit theaters.
Sacha Pfeiffer (portrayed by Rachel McAdams in Spotlight) was one of the four investigative journalists determined to get to the bottom of this unbelievable story. Following the movie’s incredible (and deserved) 2016 Oscars Best Picture win, Pfeiffer took part in BookTrib’s “One Question and Answer” series, answering one very important question: Exactly when did the team realize the seriousness of what they were uncovering?
BookTrib: At what point in the investigation of this series of stories written in The Boston Globe, did you personally feel like you had something truly important and so much bigger than what you were originally trying to uncover?
Sacha Pfeiffer: There wasn’t a specific moment or turning point when we suddenly realized that we had uncovered something gigantic. Instead, it was a steady, gradual realization that the extent of abuse was much deeper and wider than we possibly could have imagined. The church had long maintained that abusive priests were an anomaly, just a few bad apples, so we began our reporting not even sure that we’d find that many credibly accused priests. But then we had evidence of a half-dozen, and then more than ten, and then 20, and the number kept growing. By the time we published our first story about the scale of the problem, we were confident saying that at least 70 priests in the Boston archdiocese had been credibly accused of sexually abusing children — but within a year we learned that the number was actually in the hundreds. And in countless other dioceses that have been investigated, the size of the problem has been similar. All along, we were aware that we were taking on a powerful, beloved institution, but we also knew that this was a tragedy that had to be made public.