Sunday, February 3, 2019


The Washington Post will make some history of its own today with its first Super Bowl ad, which reportedly features Tom Hanks, who played legendary Post editor Ben Bradlee in 2017's The Post film about the Pentagon Papers.

The Post revealed that: "The 60-second spot, narrated by actor Tom Hanks, will air in the fourth quarter of the game, shortly before the two-minute warning. The commercial, produced in partnership with Mark Woollen and Associates, shows scenes from major news events from World War II through the present day. Hanks’s narration describes the role of journalists as eyewitnesses and gatherers of fact, as well as the profession’s larger importance to society. The commercial ends with The Washington Post’s logo and its slogan, 'Democracy Dies in Darkness.'"

That slogan was added to the Post just weeks after President Donald Trump took office in early 2017.

The commercial, which has not been released ahead of time, also highlights the dangers reporters face around the world, including those who worked at the Post.

Jamal Khashoggi
"The advertisement will briefly show several slain and missing journalists affiliated with The Washington Post and other publications," the paper reported. "They include freelance reporter Austin Tice, who has been missing in Syria for more than six years. Tice is believed to be alive, though his whereabouts are unknown. Another freelance journalist, columnist Jamal Khashoggi, was killed at the Saudi Arabian Consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2, 2018.

"The CIA determined, with high confidence, that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered Khashoggi’s assassination. A third journalist shown in the commercial, Marie Colvin, was an American war correspondent for the Sunday Times in London. She was killed in 2012 by Syrian forces while reporting in Homs, Syria. Colvin is the subject of the 2018 film 'A Private War,' and on Wednesday, a U.S. court ordered the Syrian government to pay $302 million in damages to Colvin’s family."

The ad comes just weeks after the Committee to Protect Journalists revealed that 54 journalists had been killed in the line of duty in 2018, the most in three years -- with three murdered so far this year. Since 1992, more than 1,300 have died on the job, according to CPJ. 

This is not the first time the Post took to video advertising to promote the need for a free and unfettered press. A year ago an ad pointing out the need for journalists to keep an eye on Trump was launched. See that below:

The New York Times in 2017 launched ads of its own that promoted basic journalism in the face of anti-press efforts, including one that took aim at the NFL concussion issue and ran just days before the big game. See below.

But it's not enough for major newspapers to remind news consumers of the challenges they face from anti-press attackers like Trump, and the dangers of doing the job. Other news outlets, especially broadcast and cable networks themselves, should use their airwaves for such public service announcements.

The News Media Alliance, formerly the Newspaper Association of America, recently produced a strong of video ads dubbed the "Support Real News" campaign. These ads push the point home about the need for a vibrant press. See one below:

But have you seen them on your local TV or cable station? Individual outlets need to step up and put the word out before the opposition to real journalism snuffs it out for good. 

Hopefully this starts a trend of news outlets pointing out to citizens and voters the need for a strong press, the need to support it financially, and the dangers that continue to grow for those who practice the profession.

No comments:

Post a Comment