Martin Baron usually has trouble staying awake for the Academy Awards. That trend should change this year, as he’ll be seated inside the Dolby Theatre.
Baron is the former editor of the Boston Globe who is portrayed by Liev Schreiber in the Oscar-nominated film “Spotlight.”
Now the executive editor of the Washington Post, Baron penned a first-hand account of his take on the film for DC’s newspaper of record. Schreiber apparently found Baron’s role frustrating to fully understand at first, but he eventually nailed it.
“Schreiber portrays me as the newly arrived top editor who launched that investigation, and his depiction has me as a stoic, humorless, somewhat dour character that many professional colleagues instantly recognize,” Baron wrote in the piece.
The film is up for six Oscars and Baron says, “journalistic objectivity be damned, I’m hoping it wins the entire lot.”
Baron explains that while awards are nice, the real rewards will come from the impact the film may have on journalism “because owners, publishers and editors rededicate themselves to investigative reporting” and on a skeptical public, since “citizens come to recognize the necessity of vigorous local coverage and strong journalistic institutions.”
The former Boston Globe boss says, “Journalists have declared themselves inspired, buoyed and affirmed” by the film.
Baron also offers four reasons why he didn’t think “Spotlight” would get made: “It was easy to be pessimistic: (1) Sexual assault on children and adolescents is a tough subject for anyone. (2) This movie risked offending Catholics and their Church. (3) The film relied solely on dialogue and characters — no action, no special effects; in short, not the formula for Hollywood’s favor. (4) Journalists are widely disliked, and movies about journalism have often strained to find an audience.”
Always the professional journalist, Baron reminds that “Spotlight” is a movie, not a documentary.
“It is faithful to the broad outline of how the Globe’s investigation unfolded. But it is not a stenographic account of every conversation or encounter,” Baron said. “Life doesn’t unspool neatly in the service of a two-hour movie that must coherently introduce characters and issues and important themes.”