The Washington Post aired its first Super Bowl ad at the end of Sunday’s game, but many people, including journalists, were troubled by the fact that the ad reportedly cost about $5.2 million.
The ad is narrated by actor Tom Hanks, who played former executive editor Ben Bradlee in “The Post,” a 2017 movie about the newspaper’s work to help expose a decades-long cover-up of government secrets. Hanks talked about the importance of a free press in society, and the dangers journalists face trying to report the truth.
“When our nation is threatened ... there’s always someone to gather the facts, no matter the costs,” Hanks said in the ad.
The commercial showed multiple slain and missing journalists, including Austin Tice, Marie Colvin and Jamal Khashoggi.
The Washington Post ad was gonna be good either way but Tom Hanks really pushes it over the edge— Leigh Munsil (@leighmunsil) February 4, 2019
While some applauded the ad, the amount of money the newspaper paid to get the commercial on air did not sit comfortably with Fredrick Kunkle, co-chair of the Washington-Baltimore News Guild’s bargaining unit at The Washington Post.
Kunkle sent a series of tweets in anticipation of the Post commercial. He said he thought the message conveyed in the ad is important, but that the millions of dollars that went toward it could have gone to actual journalism. There was a spate of high-profile layoffs last month at multiple news organizations.
“While I too am extremely proud of the Post and its legacy, this seems like an especially infuriating expense for a company that has a) tried to take away health care insurance from part-time employees b) moved everyone toward riskier forms of health insurance,” Kunkle tweeted.
3) c) made it easier to lay people off d) cut their severance e) frozen their pensions and resisted the smallest enhancements to remaining retirement benefits until Sen. Bernie Sanders shamed it into doing so— Fredrick Kunkle WaPo (@KunkleFredrick) February 2, 2019
4) f) refused to add a single day of paid parental leave to its measly four weeks— Fredrick Kunkle WaPo (@KunkleFredrick) February 2, 2019
and g) must know that other media companies, sensing trouble ahead, have been trimming staff #wapostrong
Others also expressed frustration with how the money was spent considering the state of journalism’s finances.
With the money the @washingtonpost spent on that ad, they could have employed 50 journalists for a year paying each a salary of $100,000.— The Reagan Battalion (@ReaganBattalion) February 4, 2019
The Washington Post ad was good, but it wasn't $5.25 million of journalists' compensation good.— Matt Hodges (@hodgesmr) February 4, 2019
CORRECTION: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated The Washington Post spent $10 million on its Super Bowl ad. The ad reportedly cost about $5.2 million.
- This article originally appeared on HuffPost.