Denise Spann

The WaPo’s Super Bowl Ad Doesn’t Address the True Problem in Journalism

*Before, I get into anything I just want to congratulate the New England Patriots on their win in the Super Bowl*

The Super Bowl is known for their funny and over the top commercials that go viral during and after the event. This year my favorite commercial was the Pepsi ad with Cardi B, Steve Carell and Lil John.

However, the commercial that caught my attention last night was The Washington Post message. I’ve personally never seen a legacy newspaper commercial on TV before. Their message was about keeping the public informed through journalism, using its motto: “Democracy dies in Darkness.”

My immediate thoughts before seeing that it was created by The Washington Post were that this commercial is really trying to gain the trust of the people back. They go through all the tragic events like war and 911 reminding the people that it was the media and journalist working to keep them informed.

Then, when I saw it was The Post, it showed they were taking a stand against the slander over all publications by the current president and his supporters.

Papers and online publications alike are experiencing extreme downsizing. BuzzFeed that has been in the news a lot lately for their breaking news, recently laid off a its whole national desk, national security team, along with entertainment, health and LGBTQ reporters. Many people believed that this was because they were trying to prove their credibility for a more serious direction. While that might be part of the reason, the problems facing journalism didn’t just start.

“People want to blame the internet for the news industry’s troubles, but the seeds go back to the 1980s.”


According to Slate, there are three key forces that created the slow-motion disaster of the journalism industry. The first: bad business decisions; the second: investors expectation of hefty profits; and third: how the industry reacted to the first two factors.

When talking about the second factor they describe how in the pre-internet era, newspapers functioned as “pseudo-monopolies” that created an “audience for advertisers that wanted to reach those people.”

In the article it said, “news companies severely misjudged what the internet was.” That proof is in the pudding because this is 100 percent true. Newspapers and consumers even, thought the internet wasn’t going to be long lasting. Papers didn’t see it as a threat until it was too late, and when they realized that on the internet there were virtually no limits, most didn’t know how to adapt. All of a sudden, newspapers were competing with everyone and since they weren’t using the internet to their advantage, they began to lose the one thing that kept them in business, ad sales.

The take over didn’t happen overnight, but over the years so many types of information outlets that used ad sales popped up (Craigslist & YouTube) and before these news companies knew it, they were fighting over scraps to save their jobs. According to Slate, between 2000 and 2008, newspaper ad revenue fell more than 60 percent.

All of this puts into perspective the other factors that contribute to the decline of the journalism industry. I think The Washington Post is taking a step in the right direction with their ad in the Super Bowl, but there’s a lot that still needs fixing behind the scenes to stop this slow decline.

4 thoughts on “The WaPo’s Super Bowl Ad Doesn’t Address the True Problem in Journalism

  1. I like that you mentioned the Washington Post Super Bowl ad. I also have never seen a legacy newspaper ad on TV, and certainly not during the Super Bowl. My first thought was how could they have paid for something like that, given that newspapers have been struggling financially for many years now. I agree that they were likely trying to regain the trust of the public and reaffirm their value as a news organization. Perhaps this is a step in the right direction!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I was a big fan of the Super Bowl ad and mentioned it in my blog too! I have seen the New York Times run TV ads recently, but I’ve never seen a media company advertise during such a high-profile event. I think it was a very deliberate decision to spend so much money to reach such a large audience. The only way we can get people to care about media again is to change their attitude, and that’s what that ad was focused on.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I think it’s about time newspapers begin advertising so that people still know they’re there. Being a journalist, I try to read, listen, watch as much news as I can but I know that does not reflect the average person, who likely relies on news aggregators or partisan editorials because they don’t have the attention span to digest 800-1,000+ word think pieces.

    As legacy publications join the 21st century in terms of how it engages with readers, it seems like they’re playing catch-up and then some to maintain widespread appeal again.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Your idea is good, traditional media ad revenue fall, I think as mentioned in the article, the leaders of newspaper companies have wrong investments and wrong judgments. Internet advertising has a great impact on the advertising revenue of traditional media. The Super Bowl ad is a novel idea, and I admire the decision of the Washington Post. This may provide new ideas for traditional media. When the income of traditional media is very low, the income and employment rate of employees will be unstable.

    Liked by 1 person

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