Seeing advertisements for products is nothing new, so in the information age, it’s likely we will see commercials for knowledge.
Recently, The New York Times has done just that. They bought a spot during the 2020 Academy Awards broadcast to advertise “The 1619 Project” and entice readers to subscribe with “The truth is worth it” as its message. The ad also featured Janelle Monáe to deliver the message.
This isn’t the first time news organizations have advertised for subscriptions, and it certainly won’t be the last. In today’s age when people want their information to be free, companies must find a creative way for readers to pay for quality journalism.
A solution is for reporters and news organizations to advertise the knowledge they possess, so the public is willing to read and pay for it.
The New York Times first debuted a commercial in 2017 during the Oscars with its “The truth is worth it” campaign.
The Washington Post bought a spot during the 2019 Super Bowl to highlight its “Democracy Dies in Darkness” tagline and used Tom Hanks as the narrator.
These commercials tug at the heartstrings, enticing readers to buy a subscription.
When news organizations use these advertisements to promote their journalism, they are spreading awareness and curiosity on topics they deem important. When they buy spots during major events and use familiar faces and voices, they are reaching a large audience.
Even though buying the ad space and using celebrities can increase their chances of gaining subscribers, they are still using a lot of money and resources to advertise their research instead of placing funds to do more investigative work.
Although not everyone who watches these ads are going to subscribe, or even read the story, they are at least aware of the issues highlighted in the ads and will hopefully recognize the important work journalists are doing.