‘Highlight’ made Marty Baron a star. It additionally made him my good friend.


Within the film, as in life, the editor winging his means from Miami to Boston in 2001 was Marty Baron, whose management within the Globe’s Pulitzer Prize-winning articles exposing systemic sexual abuse throughout the Catholic church provides “Highlight” its steadfast ethical middle. Performed Liev Schreiber with taciturn gravitas, Marty Baron no means outshines the reporters whose professionalism and perseverance kind the film’s narrative engine. However as “Highlight” made its journey from festivals to theaters in 2015, ultimately incomes the Oscar for one of the best image of that 12 months, there was little question that Marty was its real-life star.

This week, it was Marty getting caked — though, amid the pandemic, there have been no Solo cups or dry, double-frosted confections. Our goodes have been all of the extra painful for being relegated to a digital gathering.

I name him “Marty” as a result of, in the middle of “Highlight’s” launch, I used to be fortunate sufficient to get to know a person who had been one thing of an enigma since turning into The Washington Publish’s govt editor two years earlier than. He could not have been fairly as buttoned-up as Schreiber performed him, however I used to be nonetheless intimidated a journalist who was already broadly revered when he arrived. Smooth-spoken and intensely centered, Marty didn’t strike me because the type of editor who habitually roamed the open-plan hive of reporters’ desks, mountain climbing up his khakis for a casual chat. My type of communing with him was merely to do my job with the integrity, consistency and excessive requirements he anticipated of all the newsroom and modeled himself.

I used to be nervous once I noticed “Highlight” at its North American premiere on the Toronto Worldwide Movie Pageant. I used to be scheduled to fulfill Marty at a celebration after the screening. What if I hated it? What would I say? Fortunately, that dilemma solved itself when the film turned out to be good.

As a connoisseur of journalism films, I had minimize my cinematic tooth (and started nursing my skilled goals) on such iconic film editors as Cary Grant’s Walter Burns in “His Lady Friday,” Jason Robards’s Ben Bradlee in “All of the President’s Males” and Keaton’s personal Henry Hackett in “The Paper.” Not like these movies — two comedies, one a paranoid political thriller — “Highlight” was a no-frills procedural, as direct and unfussy as Marty himself.

Seizing on my admiration for the movie, the studio organized for me to accompany Marty to “Highlight” screenings within the Washington space, the place we might conduct question-and-answer periods with audiences who have been thrilled to see the true “Highlight” man in individual. Longtime Washington Publish readers have been grateful for his management in reinvigorating the newspaper’s storied legacy of investigative reporting and bold storytelling. Others merely wished to know extra a few famously personal public determine. And people “others” included well-known guests to the newsroom — Tom Hanks and Brad Pitt amongst them — who requested for particular dispensation to fulfill a bona fide American hero. (Remind me to inform you in regards to the time I helped organize a gathering with Amal Clooney shortly after we moved to The Publish’s present headquarters, and managed to get her fully misplaced on the best way to the manager editor’s new workplace.)

Due to these journeys and the following encounters, I received to see the Marty that a lot of his buddies thought was lacking within the movie: the Marty who’s heat, humorous, caring and keen to speak about what’s on his thoughts. He all the time received fun when requested about Schreiber’s unsmiling portrayal. “A lot of my closest buddies have mentioned, ‘They don’t seize your humorousness, your heat,’” Marty would comment earlier than including with good deadpan timing: “It’s a small minority of individuals, the best way.”

However the Marty of “Highlight” was true to an remoted and lonely time in his life, when he had simply moved to a brand new — and notoriously tribal — metropolis, nearly instantly taking over one in every of its most revered establishments. “I used to be seen as an outsider, not a newcomer,” he as soon as mentioned with a wry smile. “There’s a distinction.” By the point Marty left Boston a bit greater than a decade later, the outsider had turn into unusually admired for an everlasting carpetbagger. Essentially the most affecting second I witnessed on our two-person bus-and-truck tour of “Highlight” was on the Middleburg Movie Pageant, when a pair who lived in Boston in 2001 approached Marty with tears of their eyes and thanked him for saving the soul of their metropolis.

Marty accepted their reward with attribute grace and appeared to settle into having fun with all of the accolades because the months wore on. Nonetheless, “Highlight” director Tom McCarthy famous once we talked after the live-streamed going-away get together, whilst Marty “has softened a bit,” part of his core has remained inviolable. “He’s very personal,” McCarthy mentioned. “I believe it speaks a bit bit to his philosophy of journalism and what’s essential. As Marty says, it’s not about who’s proper however what’s proper. It’s no means private. And I believe he lives that. He doesn’t simply preach it.”

Coincidentally, McCarthy and “Highlight” co-writer Josh Singer had organized to go to the Globe on the day it grew to become official that Marty could be leaving for Washington. Upon listening to the information, Rob Robinson reportedly reacted with a terse two-sentence evaluation: “Dangerous day for the Globe. Good day for The Publish.” When Marty acquired the Freedom of the Press Award from the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press in 2017 — largely in honor of his backbone and tenacity within the face of Donald Trump’s relentless assaults on the media — Singer added: “Little did we all know that not solely was it a superb day for The Publish, it was a superb day for all of us.”

This week, my Publish colleagues and I do know precisely what Robinson meant: On Thursday we gathered just about to observe Marty’s colleagues, buddies and followers pay tribute to a courageous, principled and relentless journalist who’s prone to be remembered as the best of our era.

The “Highlight” group confirmed up, together with Schreiber, as did Hanks and “The Publish” director Steven Spielberg. Marty delivered a quick however significant speech during which he expressed his every day mission along with his regular economic system: “To inform the reality as practically as the reality might be ascertained” — an ethos that has solely turn into extra radical and brave within the years because the film got here out.

Now freed of the grinding 24/7 information cycle and all the private {and professional} calls for it entails, he was already extra rested and relaxed. Dangerous day for The Publish. Dangerous day for democracy. However a superb day for the legend I used to be honored to work for, and much more honored to get to know.



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