President Barack Obama Praises Spotlight Reporters

He was the keynote speaker at a journalism award ceremony.
Boston Globe reporter Michael Rezendes and 'Spotlight' actor Mark Ruffalo Photo by Olga Khvan

Boston Globe reporter Michael Rezendes and ‘Spotlight’ actor Mark Ruffalo Photo by Olga Khvan

The team of Boston Globe reporters featured in the Academy Award-winning film Spotlight received a shoutout from President Barack Obama on Monday night.

During his keynote speech at a dinner in Washington D.C. for the Toner Prize for Excellence in Political Reporting, Obama called out the media for its coverage of the 2016 presidential campaign. He stated that journalist should have “higher aspirations” when it comes to reporting the news, using the investigation highlighted in Spotlight as an example.

“Good reporters like the ones in this room all too frequently find yourselves caught between competing forces,” Obama said. “I’m aware of that. You believe in the importance of a well-informed electorate. You’ve staked your careers on it. Our democracy needs you more than ever. You’re under significant financial pressures, as well.”

He added that journalists must “dig deeper and demand more” and that “It would be better served if billions of dollars in free media (coverage) came with serious accountability.”

While Obama was critical of how the media treats stories like the never-ending saga of Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump, he praised examples of good journalism, such as the Globe‘s investigation into the Catholic Church’s sex abuse scandal which inspired Spotlight. The film took home the Oscar for Best Picture at this year’s Academy Awards.

This year’s winner of the Tonner Prize was ProPublica’s Alec MacGillis, who was honored for his reporting on oil industry lobbyist and their influence on Congress.

The annual award is given out by Syracuse University to honor the late Robin Toner, a reporter who became the first woman to work as national political correspondent for the New York Times.


Matt Juul Matt Juul, Digital A&E Writer at Boston Magazine mjuul@bostonmagazine.com


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