Readers of the Boston Globe awoke yesterday to a full page statement on Page 3 on the paper’s astonishing investigation beginning 14 years ago into “rampant and systemic sexual abuse” within the Roman Catholic archdiocese of Boston.
It was a scandal that was to reverberate across the world, probably one of the most influential newspaper exposes of all time and was the basis of the story of Spotlight, the movie that surprisingly was named Best Picture at this year's Oscars.
The Globe said the series was “a demonstration of the importance of investigative journalism, fearlessly holding our most powerful institutions accountable for their actions and, quite often, for their inaction.”
The question today is: How many newspapers will be there to carry out this vital role in the future?
Just last week, a respected journalist spelled out to an audience at Harvard just how much under threat American newspapers were.
Nicco Mele said; "If the next three years look like the last three years, I think we’re going to look at the 50 largest metropolitan papers in the country and expect somewhere between a third to a half of them to go out of business”.
It was in 2012 that the Globe started its investigation into the scandal of the priests, one of many similar investigations that this leader among American newspapers has carried out over the years.
Today the world of media is dominated by Facebook and Google and (trying hard) Yahoo! You have to wonder in this new world just who is equipped or ready to tackle the long haul of something like the massive paedophilia investigation.
Programmes like 60 Minutes do a masterful job on US television on Sundays.
But the Boston scandal was a newspaper investigation, requiring a dedicated editor ready to commit his staff to thousands of hours of work.
In this new media world, without a newspaper to pick up the challenge, is it possible that the horror of priestly paedophilia might never ever have been brought to light?
Noel Young is a former editor of Sunday Mail in Glasgow and Group Managing editor of Daily Record and Sunday Mail and a judge at this year's Online Media Awards.
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