By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

From ‘Spotlight’ to a spotlight on local news: A conversation with Walter Robinson

Walter Robinson speaking at a New England First Amendment Coalition event

In the latest “What Works” podcast, Ellen Clegg and I talk with Walter Robinson, a longtime investigative journalist and editor of The Boston Globe’s Spotlight Team. Robby, as he is known, was instrumental in uncovering the clergy sex abuse scandal that rocked the Catholic Church in Boston and beyond. The series won the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service in 2003. The team’s work was captured onscreen in the movie “Spotlight,” where Robby was played by the actor Michael Keaton.

Robby is a former colleague — he was a Distinguished Professor of Journalism here at Northeastern. He was also a 1974 graduate of Northeastern’s journalism program and participated in co-op.

Robinson covered and edited local news at the Globe. But he ranged wide. He reported from 48 states and 33 countries. He covered the White House during the Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations. He was also the Globe’s Middle East bureau chief and covered the first Persian Gulf War.

In recent years, Robby has been focused on the local news crisis in a big way. He has been deeply involved in the New Bedford Light, an impressive nonprofit digital news outlet. He lives in Plymouth, so it’s perhaps no surprise that he is a key adviser to the board of directors at the new Plymouth Independent.

I’ve got a Quick Take on developments in the junkyard known as Twitter. Ellen reports on a new podcast out of Memphis called “Civil Wrongs.” It’s produced by a Report for America corps member that examines a racist massacre in the aftermath of the Civil War.

You can listen to our conversation here and subscribe through your favorite podcast app.

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1 Comment

  1. ryanertz@maine.rr.com

    FYI: Check out the good news from Maine where the owner of the majority of Maine local newspapers has sold Maine MastHead https://www.mainepublic.org/business-and-economy/2023-07-10/press-herald-other-masthead-maine-papers-sold-to-national-trust-for-local-news to a non-profit news foundation out of Colorado! Long live local access and control of news and the growth on news non-profits mission!

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