By Francisco Omar Fernandez Rodriguez
The Center for Inclusive Excellence and Arts & Ideas held a screening of “She Said” at the Dwight Performing Arts Center, followed by a Q&A with New York Times journalist Megan Twohey over Zoom Nov. 6.
The film “She Said” was directed by Maria Schrader and shown as part of The Arthur Nolletti, Jr. Film Series. Sally Shafto, an English professor, introduced the film and organized the showing.
“She Said” is an adaptation of a book with the same title written by Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey, and is based on the true story of their investigation into sexual abuse allegations against Harvey Weinstein.
The article Kantor and Twohey published sparked the #MeToo Movement, and led to Weinstein’s conviction and 23-year prison sentence. The film showcases Kantor and Twohey’s investigative journalism.
After the screening English Professor Elizabeth Banks began the Q&A with Twohey. She asked, “Can you tell us a little bit about your career path, how you started in journalism? Did you major in the field?”
Twohey said she was not a journalism major and only took one class on it. She added she was initially more focused on being an activist, but decided to take some jobs in journalism after she graduated.
She said she became more interested in investigative journalism over time, especially when she saw the impact it could have on the world. She added, “You could write stories that can help change laws or send bad guys to jail, and help protect people.”
Twohey said she worked with a variety of publications before joining The New York Times in 2016. In that same year she reported on Donald Trump’s sexual misconduct. She added this was a strong beginning into her experience at The New York Times.
She said she enjoys being able to follow facts and expose the truth as an investigative journalist.
She added one of the times she helped to change laws was while she was at the Chicago Tribune, before working at The New York Times. She said during her time there she helped to uncover the police’s untested rape kits, which were valuable evidence that was being ignored.
Twohey added after writing an article on this, the kits were used as evidence and a new law requiring the testing of all rape kits was passed.
She said while she was with Reuters she once spent a year investigating the practice of “rehoming” adopted children to strangers on the internet.
She said once this investigation was published, countries passed better laws to protect these kids.
Twohey said, “I always had an inclination to want to dig deeper and not just report what was visible, but report into the kind of things that were more hidden.”
Sophia Harris, a junior, asked, “How did you keep going even though you kept hitting all of these brick walls?”
Using the investigation shown in the film as an example, Twohey said she was able to keep going once it became clear that the rumors about Weinstein were true. She added she and Kantor were quickly able to find women who did have troubling encounters with him.
She said when no one would go on the record, they would focus on finding other types of evidence. She added if you kept working at the case, there was usually a “significant break” that proved what you uncovered.
Adam Levine, a senior, asked, “How many other stories would you say you have ideas for or leads for but you just didn’t have enough to go on to continue making a story like this?”
Twohey said she had to abandon stories several times. She said whether or not the investigation goes well is often up to luck.
She added typically the editor gives the journalist a few weeks to investigate, but only gives more time if the reporter finds something.
Paul Harrington, a sophomore, asked, “What is one thing you wish you knew before going into that?”
Twohey said she wished there was a way to know ahead of time whether or not the investigation was going to work, but there was never a guarantee.
She added she now knows the phases she goes through during the process. Enthusiasm followed by self doubt, practically in a cycle.
Twohey said she got into journalism in the first place because she wanted to make an impact. She said, “As cheesy as it sounds, I desire to try to help make the world a better place.”
[Editor’s Note: Elizabeth Banks is the Assistant Advisor on The Gatepost. Sophia Harris is an Associate Editor on The Gatepost. Adam Levine is the Sports Editor on The Gatepost. Paul Harrington is a Staff Writer on The Gatepost.]