The irony of The Washington Post’s multi-million dollar Super Bowl ad was not lost on the alternative media, nor on the writer’s union for the mainstream media newspaper.
How much did it cost?
With a price tag that could top $10 million, the 60-second ad will stress the importance of a free press in “a message underscoring the importance of newsgathering and the dangers journalists can face,” the Washington Post wrote in an editorial that boasts about its “first Super Bowl spot.”
The ad, narrated by Hollywood icon Tom Hanks, is set to air during Sunday’s Super Bowl between the New England Patriots and the Los Angeles Rams.
And it comes as at least 2,100 writers, editors and others in media have either already lost or are expected to lose their jobs over the next few days, New York Magazine reported.
The carnage includes about 250 staffers at Vice Media. Additionally, McClatchy News is reportedly offering voluntary buyouts to 450 employee. The tally also includes about 15 percent of the workforce at BuzzFeed and approximately 400 jobs in the Gannett company, which owns “more than 1,000 daily and weekly newspapers across the country.”
Fredrick Kunkle, a staff writer at WaPo and co-chair of its union, called the pricey ad an “infuriating expense.”
“The Post is now paying, say, $5M/30 seconds to tout journalistic freedom during one of the glitziest and – given the NFL’s knee-taking protests and concussions – more controversial sports events in our country,” Kunkle wrote in a five-part Twitter message.
The Washington Post did not disclose how much it spent on the 60-second ad. But CBS is charging $5.25 million for just a 30-second spot.
Kunkle also blasted the paper for what he called policies that “made it easier to lay off people” and “cut their severance.”
Still, the news outlet touted the ad with a quote from its publisher and CEO.
“The Super Bowl is a remarkable moment to recognize the courage and commitment of journalists around the world that is so essential to our democracy,” Fred Ryan, publisher and CEO of The Washington Post, said. “We decided to seize the opportunity to make this a milestone moment in our ongoing campaign.”
The ad will reportedly feature several slain and missing journalists associated with the Washington Post and other publications. Among them are WaPo contributor Jamal Khashoggi, who was assassinated at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October 2018.
Jeff Bezos, the CEO of Amazon, also bought the Washington Post in 2013. Although Amazon is a separate company, it will “benefit from government subsidies and investments totaling more than $2.4 billion from Virginia, New York and Tennessee to build its new facilities,” the Washington Post reported in late 2018.
The Super Bowl ad ends with Washington Post’s slogan, “Democracy dies in darkness.”