NY Times Buys Oscars Ad to Tout '1619 Project,' Lure Liberal Subscribers

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Liberal political lectures didn’t just come during ABC’s Oscars show. It even came during the commercials. The New York Times spent an estimated $2 million for an ad promoting its “1619 Project," which sets out to “reframe” American history by putting everything in the context of enslaving blacks. Their ads equate the Times with “the truth,” and “the truth can change how we see the world.”

The Oscars broadcast is the second most expensive television ad buy of the year, after the Super Bowl. 

Amy Weisenbach, the newspaper's senior vice president of marketing, explained the ad campaign: "I think people simply don’t know what goes into producing the kind of journalism that the New York Times produces. Two-thirds of the paper’s revenue comes from subscriptions, not ad dollars or a wealthy benefactor, as some readers believe."

Actress and singer Janelle Monae stood on a Virginia beach to narrate the liberal spin:

JANELLE MONAE: In August 1619, a ship appeared on this horizon near Point Comfort, Virginia. It carried more than 20 enslaved Africans who were sold to the colonists.

No aspect of the country we know today has been untouched by the slavery that followed. America was not yet America, but this was the moment it began.

After the narrator stepped out of the image, a sentence in bold type declared: “The truth can change how we see the world" and "The truth is worth it.” The final element in the ad was the logo of The New York Times.

Sarah Scire at NiemanLab.org noted that the commercial is part of a national ad campaign which began last August with a package of stories marking the 400th anniversary of the first documented enslaved Africans to reach the British colonies and “retelling American history through the lens of slavery, race and discrimination.”

Scire called the project a “sweeping, deeply-reported” effort on how slavery has shaped America as “one of the most-read pieces of journalism the Times produced in 2019.” It broadens the Times from just uncovering Trump scandals to retelling American history, and it's drawn controversy. "It’s as hot of a cultural hot potato as the Times has baked in a long time."

“Originally conceived by Times reporter Nikole Hannah-Jones as a special issue of The New York Times Magazine,” the project “has grown to include a special section in the paper, a live event series, curriculum materials, podcasts, books and even a yet-to-be-launched merchandise collection in collaboration with the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund.”

Other goals of the campaign, Scire wrote, are “to convince more of its 150 million monthly readers to pay for a subscription” and “instill the belief that quality journalism -- Times journalism, in particular -- is worth paying for.” 


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