June 26, 2018

The movie “Spotlight” ends with the first story published about the clergy scandal that would mushroom around the world.

The Boston Globe’s Spotlight team followed that story — but an unsung hero was a journalist from central Massachusetts named Kathy Shaw.

Shaw, who died Sunday night, worked on a clergy Abuse Tracker that became a reference to journalists worldwide who were following the story. Those who worked with her speak of her dedication, tackling the issue of church abuse from the early 1990s on. Though not famous or from a big town, Shaw showed how a journalist, even late in a career, can make a difference.

Kathy Shaw, second from left. Photo: Courtesy of Bill Mitchell

From 2002 through this year, Shaw, a former award-winning religion reporter for the Worcester Telegram & Gazette, posted thousands of stories to the abuse tracker, which was begun by Poynter’s former editor, Bill Mitchell, and now is hosted at www.bishop-accountability.org.

Mitchell said he was inspired to start the tracker based on the way reporter Jim Romenesko was tracking changes in the news. But Mitchell, running the Poynter site at that time, needed contributors such as Shaw — and she volunteered.

“Kathy took it on as a personal mission and delivered on almost every day for 16 years,” Mitchell said in an interview. “She shed enormous light on what the church tried to keep secret.”

She “transformed the news blog into an indispensable resource and record, used by everyone who works on the clergy abuse crisis or cares about it. Thanks to Kathy and Abuse Tracker, every local development in the abuse crisis could be followed by people everywhere,” colleagues Terence McKiernan and Anne Barrett Doyle wrote.

Shaw also was a union activist and a mental health counselor. But she was always on.

“She was a boisterous character,” Mitchell said. “She talked about waking up in the middle of the night, computer near the bed, and checked in with what was happening with the clergy abuse story around the world. She just would not be stopped.”

Quick hits

LOCAL BROADCASTING GETS BIGGER: Poynter’s Al Tompkins reports that Atlanta-based Gray TV will purchase Raycom, a deal that would make it the nation’s third-biggest broadcaster. Related: Raycom moves to sell its newspapers in 22 states. Unrelated: Scripps’ Tulsa radio stations sold.

SUSPENDED: Former Trump adviser David Bossie from Fox News for what the network called "deeply offensive" on-air comments against Democratic strategist Joel Payne, who is black. Here's The Daily Beast's story. 

TAKE OUR NEWSROOM: The Public Newsroom approach, used by Chicago’s City Bureau and Mississippi Daily, offers the lessons it has learned and organizational structure it has developed for all. By Andrea Faye Hart.

TAKE OUR PLAYBOOK: NPR offers up its immersive storytelling expertise, documented and eminently readable. Don’t be afraid of the phrase “hypothesis-driven design."

FACT-CHECKER GROWING PAINS: The rapidly expanding fact-checking movement has seen successes over the past year, such as a rebranding of a team formerly affiliated with a left-leaning French paper to handle bias. But strains have grown with political hoaxes on WhatsApp, an encrypted instant message and phone system with 1.5 billion users. Lynchings have occurred in India as a result of misinformation spread on WhatsApp, The Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler reports.

WHAT MS-13 IS NOT DOING: It is not growing, invading America or having its members pose as fake families, says ProPublica immigration reporter Hannah Dreier.

INTERVIEWING REFUGEES?: Read this first. The Discourse has gathered tips from refugees, scholars and journalists, including: a) interviews with people who have been persecuted can cause distress; b) different nations have different types of “journalists” — say what you do, what your outlet is like, and make it clear they can say “no” to an interview; c) be careful on identification: know that using their name could endanger them or their relatives and make that clear as well. “A single word,” said workshop participant Ely Bahaddi, “can harm this refugee.”  

NAMED: Jada Gomez as executive editor of Bustle. Gomez will oversee lifestyle, books and entertainment, reporting to Bustle’s managing editor, Amanda Chan. Bustle’s parent company also publishes Elite Daily, Romper, and The Zoe Report. … Vox’s Elite Truong has been named deputy editor for strategic initiatives at The Washington Post. In 2017, she hosted the Next Steps podcast for Poynter, where she interviewed journalists on their non-traditional career paths in and out of media. Truong also is a member of the Online News Association board.

What we’re reading

BREXIT = TRUMP/RUSSIA: Jonathan Chait notes the similarities in Russian influence to get Britain to approve the disastrous and nation-dividing Brexit initiative and aid the Electoral College victory of the polarizing and alienating Donald Trump. “Hurrah,” tweets British investigative journalist Carole Cadwalladr. “These are not two scandals, they are the same scandal.”

WHERE IS OBAMA?: The nation is in crisis, and the path-breaking former president — still the most popular man in America — has been low profile. Could he be doing more to blunt the divisive message of the current president, or would his participation just energize Trump’s lockstep supporters? Gabriel Debenedetti writes.

TOUCHY: Mock China's leader, China bans your site from its nation. That's what has happened to HBO in the authoritarian nation since comedian John Oliver's skit on Xi Jinping. Beijing censors are busy trying to scrub mentions of Oliver on the microblogging site Weibo, too.

What we’re watching

SCHOOL’S OUT: A school receptionist switched it up and welcomed the last day of school over by belting out Etta James’ “At Last” during announcements.

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Many thanks to Kristen Hare for editing this.

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