Dogged determination. Facts. Empathy. Fairness. These are just some of the attributes of investigative reporter Mike Rezendes of the Boston Globe Spotlight team.
Rezendes, who began reporting on the Boston Catholic clergy abuses of children and youth some sixteen years ago, has noted a change in society of late. Back when he began, when people came forward with allegations of crimes, they were seen as shady. And they were, generally, not believed. Even children were not believed by their parents. The ‘sea change?’ “Now they’re listened to. They have credibility. That was profoundly satisfying,” Rezendes said.
Asked about the attributes of an investigative reporter, he replied, ‘Be naturally empathetic, curious, a good listener.’ He also said that, along with his fellow Spotlight reporters, he “became an amateur psychologist. When you’re a reporter you pick it up as you go along.”
He laughed when asked whether Mark Ruffalo was an apt actor to play him in the film Spotlight. He reported that Ruffalo and he, besides sharing the same initials, shared similar characteristics. (And Ruffalo might have nailed Rezendes a little too accurately.)
Hearing the wisdom of Rezendes and Susanne Craig, who I will write about tomorrow, at the homecoming and family weekend of the School for Ethics and Global Leadership in Washington DC, and the brilliant students who questioned them, totally inspired me. These young people and journalists have great integrity.
While I am a fast and good (humble) writer, I am not a dogged writer. I lose interest in stories that require lengthy research. I joke that my favorite parts of journalism are accepting the job and accepting the paycheck. It’s all the in-between stuff that I find difficult.
That’s not completely true, I do love interviewing people too. I like to cut through B.S. and get to what matters to people. My motto? Go deep fast.
Back to the seismic shifts in the betterment of society from the reporting of Rezendes and Craig — I believe that there is a sea change of honesty and empathy emerging in our national conversations. I have hope that my fellow civilians will treasure the work of the press the way I do.
Asked about how they respond when naysayers call the media ‘fake’ or deny the facts, Rezendes said, “Get the documents. Get the proof. Push for evidence.”
Regarding his own reporting on the institutional abuse of children by the Boston clergy, he said, “I wanted to be as fair as I could be…I’m a paid skeptic.”
As Noah Bopp, founder of the School for Ethics and Global Leadership, said at the outset of this panel, “Our ethos is to be empathetic.”