Washington Post airs Super Bowl ad honoring journalists, press freedom

The Washington Post on Sunday aired its first Super Bowl advertisement, a one-minute long compilation of historic images and clips meant to signify the role of journalists. 

The ad, which was narrated by actor Tom Hanks, aired during the fourth quarter of the contest between the New England Patriots and Los Angeles Rams. 

"When we go off to war. When we exercise our rights. When we soar to our greatest heights," Hanks says as the ad shows images of the World War II D-Day invasion and the first moon landing, among others. "When we mourn and pray. When our neighbors are at risk. When our nation is threatened.

"There’s someone to gather the facts. To bring you the story. No matter the cost. Because knowing empowers us. Knowing helps us decide. Knowing keeps us free," Hanks concludes as the commercial displays the newspaper's slogan, “Democracy Dies in Darkness.”

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The ad features clips of Fox News's Bret Baier and CNN's Anderson Cooper, among other reporters, and gives a special tribute to Jamal Khashoggi, the Washington Post columnist who was allegedly murdered last year after entering the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. 

The commercial also showcases Austin Tice, a freelance reporter who has been missing in Syria for more than six years. 

Fred Ryan, publisher and CEO of The Washington Post, told the newspaper that the advertisement was purchased last week. CBS was charging $5.25 million for a 30-second slot, according to CNBC.

“This was a chance for a broader message about the role journalists play in our everyday lives and the risks they take to bring us the facts,” Ryan said in a statement. 

Hanks's role in the commercial appears to be based on the role he played in depicting the newspaper's former executive editor, Ben Bradlee, in "The Post."

The commercial can be viewed on The Washington Post's website and on social media.