If the hype is to be believed, one of the historic sporting events happened this past weekend: Super Bowl 2019. However, something even more important happened; perhaps even bigger than the sixth win by a specific football team (the Patriots, if you are interested and escaped that). I am referring to the Washington Post’s advertisement — although it might not actually fit the definition of an “advertisement” since it included a lot of famous news stories.
Since a few people did not watch the game, I’ll include the link below. If you watched the game but visited the kitchen when it aired, you should watch it now. Either way, you missed something important.
Although it is difficult to understand why people are upset, this commercial has created waves today. Let’s look at the two common complaints: cost of the ad and content.
I know, I know, the Post spent a lot of money for a short block of time during the Super Bowl, and a few argue that money could have been spent better elsewhere. But really, where else could the newspaper connect with millions of potential new customers? And more importantly, through this ad, the Post took its message to more than 111 million people. You read that right: 111 million. Where else can one commercial touch that many individuals?
What was that message, you ask? Simply that a free press helps us stay aware and free. However, there was much more than that simple message in the ad.
With Tom Hanks’ dulcet voice-over, it might be easy to miss the tributes to missing and killed journalists. Following flashes of a few of the biggest stories of recent times, which included cameos by living correspondents reporting on floods and bombings, the ad included some difficult news: the face of a newsperson who is missing — Austin Tice — and those of murdered journalists Marie Colvin and Jamal Khashoggi.
Tom Hanks’ voice tells us what should be obvious: they suffered and died to bring the truth to the world.
Certainly that alone should give us a reason to support journalism. That alone should earn journalists some respect.
We can easily show our support by subscribing to the publications that pay them to do this job. Obviously the Washington Post hopes you will spend some money on them. That’s what makes this an advertisement and not a documentary.
The commercial showed us clearly that journalism can certainly be a job just as dangerous as soldier, policeman or fireman.
Yet certain famous people, specifically, Donald Trump, Jr., described this advertisement as BS. Remember Donald Trump, Jr? Currently he’s being investigated for working with the Russians to influence the US presidential election in 2016.
What is BS here? That a vastly wealthy man, one who has made some dreadful choices with the media (and he probably made another really bad choice with this latest), should call BS on people who are working hard to get us the truth, to obtain the real news. Why would this man call BS on a clip that recognizes those few individuals willing to go into a war zone with troops or hang onto a bridge to report on rushing flood waters? Apparently he hoped we would ignore this ad just as he wants us to ignore his (alleged) collusion with Russia to undermine the US vote. Perhaps he should have stepped away from commenting in this case.
Where is the BS here? Certainly there is no BS in the Super Bowl ad.
If anything, the Washington Post presents an understated view of the dangers involved in covering disasters, violence, totalitarianism, and warfare. The Post assumes we will view that ad and recognize the famous events that flash by: the Civil Rights marches, the moon landing, the recent record-breaking horrific fires in California, and the equally horrifying war in Syria. What the commercial provides is a simple tribute to three people with only brief words displayed underneath their names. It also gives recognition to others who do the same work.
There’s no BS here. There is only the sad truth that some journalists go where you and I would never want to travel. And they do it to report the news.
Here’s the link to the Washington Post ad: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZDjfg8YlKHc
It is well worth the watch.