Dark, Harrowing Film Touts Power of Journalism in Uncovering Truth

Reporters Without Borders ad says fighting against misinformation is 'essential to protect democracy'

Reporters Without Borders shows how journalism shines a spotlight on injustice. Reporters Without Borders / BETC

Global advocacy group Reporters Without Borders has released a harrowing film to promote journalism’s power in uncovering the truth and holding powerful institutions to account.

Crafted by agency BETC, the short film has a stark message: that reality only exists if someone reports it.

The spot opens with a scene that shows refugees crossing a desert. One collapses with exhaustion, later dying in the ad, leaving his grieving son to travel alone.

The viewer is then taken within a cell where a man, inflicted with torture injuries, shivers with fear and cold. Next, an older man and a sobbing child bride are shown being wedded in a marriage ceremony. And finally, dozens of bodies of people killed by Covid-19 are shown lined up on an ice rink.

The montage concludes as each of the protagonists in the scene vanish to nothing, showing an empty ice rink, empty cell and an empty room where the underage marriage took place.

The ad aims to show how hidden truth doesn’t come to light without reporters first discovering it.

“Journalists all over the world defend minorities, protect the environment and denounce police violence and corruption,” the nonprofit said in a statement. “Reporters Without Borders defends those that help us understand the world and take action against injustice.”

BETC, Adweek’s 2019 International Agency of the Year, doesn’t hold creative punches when addressing the issues and dangers journalists face in the quest and fight for the truth. Previous work for the organization is equally stark and bracing.

The latest ad runs online and on major French and international television channels.

Agency: BETC
Director: Vincent Rodella
Production Company: Birthand
Post Production Studio: Mathematic

@saramayspary sara.spary@adweek.com Sara Spary is a freelance journalist based in London. She's been a reporter for eight years, covering advertising and consumer brands.