We Need the Truth

The New York Times ran a television ad for the first time since 2010 during the 89th Academy Awards Ceremony on ABC., firing back at President Donald Trump and emphasizing the importance of a free press. 

During the commercial block, a white screen appeared, with the words “The truth is, our nation is more divided than ever.” As the 30-second advert continued, the words “The truth is” remained on screen, with a variety of different messages following. As voices of reporters grew louder in the background, the advertisement ended with the words, “The truth is more important now more than ever.”

Although the advertisement does not directly call out the 45th president, it is clear by its message and tone that the statements provided target the travel ban and illicit ties to Russia.

In response to the commercial, Trump jumped on his favorite social media platform to share his thoughts. “For first time the failing @nytimes will take an ad (a bad one) to help save its failing reputation. Try reporting accurately & fairly,” Trump tweeted.

Even as Trump continues to claim The New York Times is failing, the statement appears to be false. In reality, the Times actually added 132,000 paid subscriptions since Election Day, which is ten times the newspaper’s growth during the same period a year earlier.

The commercial was very upfront with its message. There is no footage or images that appear on screen. Instead, all that appears is a simple black text on a white screen. The Times advert is clear, direct and frank.

“The ad’s mission is to tap into national dialogue going on right now about facts and the truth and what that means in today’s world,” according to The New York Times branding executive David Rubin.

“The idea is to be a part of that discussion about what does it mean to find the truth,” said Rubin. “What does that mean in a world of ‘fake news?’ What is the role of journalism and journalists in that process and what is the role of the reader in supporting that journalism?”

The New York Times is one of many news outlets, including CNN, to be banned from a Friday casual press conference with White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer.

It seems the Times is making a point, a very concise one, that says they will find a way to inform the public and decided to make that undeniably clear during one of the largest entertainment shows of the year.

They know how fundamental a free press is to a democracy and agree with Walter Lippmann that “there can be no higher law in journalism than to tell the truth and to shame the devil.”