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Out of ‘Spotlight,’ the movie, comes the Spotlight Fellowship

Today’s report started with the Academy Award-winning film “Spotlight.” Kerry Hayes/Open Road Films

Today’s report started with the Academy Award-winning film “Spotlight.”

The film told the story of the Globe’s groundbreaking investigation of child sexual abuse by Catholic clergy. In 2016, the movie’s producers won the Oscar for Best Picture.

But the team at one of the companies behind the film — Participant Media, founded by Jeff Skoll and dedicated to entertainment that inspires social change — wanted to do more to champion the work of investigative journalists. So they created the Spotlight Investigative Journalism Fellowship.

Participant Media, along with the film’s partners Open Road Films and First Look Media, fund the fellowship, which provides recipients the opportunity to work on their own in-depth investigative stories alongside The Boston Globe’s Spotlight Team.


Journalists from all over the world submitted proposals to a panel of investigative journalists from the Globe and outside.

More than a year later, here are the results.

Jaimi Dowdell, a former computer-assisted-reporting trainer for Investigative Reporters and Editors, and freelance investigative journalist Kelly Carr wanted to expose the secrecy surrounding ownership of thousands of American-registered planes. They discovered a government-sanctioned system that allows drug dealers, corrupt politicians, and others with bad intentions to use the United States as a secrecy haven. They also found that the federal government does no better monitoring pilots and airplane mechanics, allowing some to keep their licenses even after they’ve been convicted of aiding terrorists.

Their yearlong investigation was both exhausting and meticulous, involving several reporters covering a global issue from Venezuela to Denmark to Oklahoma City. But the results are a revelation, which is exactly what the best investigative journalism ought to be.

With a continued commitment to investigative journalists everywhere, Participant Media, Open Road Films, and First Look Media are supporting a second year of the Spotlight Fellowship. The two newest Spotlight Fellows are already hard at work on their investigation. Stay tuned.