The Washington Post will have a 60-second ad during the Super Bowl, which means it is likely paying somewhere in a neighborhood north of $10 million for the airtime.
That doesn’t sit well with Fredrick Kunkle, the co-chair of the Washington-Baltimore News Guild’s bargaining unit at The Post.
And he thinks even if the cause trumpeted by the ad is right and just, the money would be better spent on the company’s employees.
“The Post is now paying, say, $5M/30 seconds to tout journalistic freedom during one of the glitziest and — given the NFL’s knee-taking protests and concussions — more controversial sports events in our country,” Kunkle tweeted over the weekend.
That was the first of his four tweets on what will be The Post’s first Super Bowl ad, which highlights the role of journalists around the world who often face grave danger in gathering the news.
“While I too am extremely proud of the Post and its legacy,” Kunkle wrote in his second tweet, “this seems like an especially infuriating expense for a company that has: a) tried to take health care insurance from part-time employees b) moved everyone toward riskier forms of health insurance.”
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His third and fourth tweets added to that list:
“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.
“f) refused to add a single day of paid parental leave to its measly four weeks and g) must know that other media companies, sensing trouble ahead, have been trimming staff.”
According to Kunkle’s bio on The Post website, he runs the Tripping blog, writing about the experience of travel.
“There’s not a whole lot more to say,” Kunkle wrote to USA TODAY Sports by email, “but those tweets make it clear that I for one think it’s extravagant and in poor taste.” He also wrote that he hadn’t had a chance to discuss the ad with other union leaders but posted his thoughts as a member of the union.
The ad, scheduled to run in the fourth quarter, is narrated by Tom Hanks, who played former Post executive editor Ben Bradlee in the 2017 movie “The Post.”
Kristine Coratti Kelly, vice president of communications and events for The Post, declined comment by email.