Every year the Super Bowl generates one of the biggest social conversations of the year, with millions of people tuning in. It is no surprise that brands strive to have their best advertisements for their products or companies aired during this event, with 30-second spots going for more than $5 million. Companies pull out their thinking caps to come up with the most eye-catching content for viewers.
One ad this year that caught the attention of many was from The Washington Post: “Democracy Dies in Darkness.”
The Washington Post‘s first Super Bowl commercial was narrated by Tom Hanks and paid tribute to the importance of news gathering and the potential dangers that journalists face. It also expressed the importance of honest journalism and how sometimes information can be unreliable or false. The commercial included Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, who was killed at the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul, and other journalists who were killed or went missing in the line of duty.
Fred Ryan, publisher and CEO of The Washington Post, expressed in a recent article that the ad was a remarkable moment to recognize the courage and commitment from journalists around the world and that it is so essential to democracy.
“This was a chance for a broader message about the role journalists play in our everyday lives and the risks they take to bring us the facts,” Ryan said.
A local journalist at CTV News Kitchener, Jeff Pickel, expressed gratitude for a job well done.
“I think the commercial did a great job putting journalism in a historical context, highlighting the fact a free an independent free press is part of American history,” said Pickel. “I think critics of media forgot that a big part of U.S. and Canada’s success is due to the fact we have an open society and an independent media, and it’s vital to the freedoms we enjoy.”
Pickel pointed to some highlights from his career as a journalist and provided advice to other aspiring journalists who want to pursue this career path.
“The best experience I’ve had is covering the[Elizabeth] Wettlaufer trial in Woodstock. It was my first chance to experience a true national media event and was a great learning experience — to learn how some of the best in our business operate,” said Pickel. “Journalism is truly a business you can only learn by doing. I think students should take advantage of the opportunities that the college provides.”
Jeffrey Dvorkin, lecturer and program coordinator of journalism at the University of Toronto, said that his 47 years as a journalist has been full of opportunities and that there have been many changes in journalism since he started.
“I have been a journalist since 1972 and every aspect of my career has had great moments which have convinced me that I made the right choice in deciding to become a journalist,” said Dvorkin. “I think digital media has been both the saviour and the villain for journalism and I think journalism is and always has been an indispensable aspect of democracy.”
The new ad from the Washington Post attempted to give everyone a fresh perspective on the importance of journalists and their work from all around the world. Journalists have the ability to see things from a multitude of different perspectives. They have the ability to disagree with any issue or topic, but still speak truth to it as a service. And most importantly, journalists are able to know and understand the world around us which helps everyone stay informed on the current issues in our society.