Darren Aronofsky Captures the Struggle and Danger of Reporting in Stunning Ads for The New York Times

Droga5 spotlights photojournalists' search for the truth

Headshot of Kristina Monllos

The New York Times wants readers to understand what it takes to produce the journalism it does—that there’s real work behind the words and photos they see, and that some of the paper’s journalists risk their lives for stories. That’s why the Grey Lady has released a new set of ads directed by Darren Aronofsky, part of its ongoing truth-focused brand campaign from Droga5.

Two 60-second spots released today function similarly: A series of images that a Times photojournalist took while reporting a story are shown, while the journalist behind the camera narrates what the scene was like that day and what his process was like. The result is affecting.

“Photojournalists risk their safety, their minds and often their lives in order to capture what is really happening in the most tumultuous parts of the world,” Aronofsky said in a statement. “They rush face first into war, disease and human plight to capture the horrors that are unfolding on and to our planet. Many of their images end up changing us and how we treat each other.”

The spot above is narrated by photojournalist Tyler Hicks. His photos were used in a story from October 2015, Waves of Young Syrian Men Bring Hope, and a Test, to Europe.

Aronofsky added: “Instead of being maligned and mistrusted, journalists should be respected and thanked. For me, it was an honor to speak with them about their methods and some of their toughest assignments. I hope the commercials pay tribute to the important work these men and women have done and continue to do.”

The second 60-second spot above is narrated by photojournalist Bryan Denton. While he was covering ISIS in Iraq, the convoy he was in was struck by a car bomb; the photos he took were used in this story: ISIS Sent Four Car Bombs. The Last One Hit Me.

Two more ads will be released in the coming weeks—one from the perspective of a reporter, Daniel Berehulak, covering Ebola in West Africa, and another featuring Andes bureau chief Nicholas Casey and contributing photographer Meridith Kohut explaining what the economic downfall has done to Venezuela.

There will also be print work running in the Times.

“Fact-based, independent journalism is perhaps a more dangerous job now than it has ever has been, and it is also more important now than it has ever been,” Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. said in a statement. “The Times has never shied away from conflict; whether war zones, authoritative governments, epidemics or disasters—we know that to tell the story right, we have to be there.”

According to research conducted by the Times, consumers don’t know what it takes to produce journalism. As the Times’ business model shifts to being more subscription-based, as svp and head of The New York Times brand David Rubin previously told Adweek, it’s more important for consumers to understand the mechanics of journalism.

“There’s a dialogue right now about the truth and where it comes from, what’s your journey, where’s your personal way to find it, what’s fake news and what isn’t, how does one know, what’s the role that original independent reporters and reporting plays in an individual’s journey to find the truth,” explained Rubin in a previous interview. “With that going on, that was the idea behind our effort to say let’s talk about that with this ‘The Truth is Hard’ idea and tell that story.”


Dedicated Journalists : Integrated Credits List
Client: The New York Times
Campaign: Dedicated Journalists
Refugees in Greece The Truth Is Hard to Find – Tyler Hicks
ISIS in Iraq The Truth Is Hard to Find – Bryan Denton
Ebola in West Africa The Truth Is Hard to Find – Daniel Berehulak
Economic Downfall in Venezuela The Truth Is Hard to Find – Meridith Kohut

Agency: Droga5 NY
Creative Chairman: David Droga
Chief Creative Officer: Ted Royer
Executive Creative Director: Tim Gordon
Copywriter: Mariana Oliveira
Art Director: Joaquin Salim
Chief Creation Officer: Sally-Ann Dale
Co-Director of Film Production: Jesse Brihn
Co-Director of Film Production: Bryan Litman
Senior Producer, Film: Anders Hedberg
Associate Producer, Film: Kylie Loeffler
Integrated Production Business Manager: Grant Thompson
Internal Legal Counsel: Erica Palaia
Director of Interactive Production: Niklas Lindstrom
Director of Art Production: Cliff Lewis
Director of Print Services: Rob Lugo
Global Chief Strategy Officer: Jonny Bauer
Co-Head of Strategy: Harry Roman
Strategy Director: Tom Gibby
Head of Communications Strategy: Colleen Leddy
Communications Strategy Director: Kristen Ziaks
Communications Strategist: Eric Chow
Group Account Director: Julian Cheevers
Account Director: Keith Jackson
Account Manager: Sophia Bernard
Project Manager: Caroline Kosse

Client: The New York Times
David Rubin: SVP and Head of Brand
Amy Weisenbach: VP of Brand Marketing
Iain Newton: Brand Consulting Executive
James Perkins: Senior Brand Manager
Julie Tucker: Executive Director of Marketing
Tom Bodkin: Chief Creative Officer
Laura Forde: Executive Creative Director
Brenda Natoli: Head of Voice
Sabena Gupta: Brand Planner
Isabelle Ambler: Associate Brand Manager
Blair Ecton: Project Manager
David Furst: International Photo Editor
Brenda Hutchings: Photo Editor

Production Company: Chromista
Director: Darren Aronofsky
Executive Producer: Sandy Haddad
Executive Producer: Ted Robbins

Editorial: Bonch
Editor: Adam Zuckerman

Post Production: The Mill
Executive Producer: Mel Wickham
Senior Producer: Colin Blaney
Production Coordinator: Michael Brown
Lead Compositor: Ilia Mokhtareizadeh
Compositor: Brandon Danowski
Designer: Laura Nash

Sound & Mix: Barking Owl
Sound Designer: Morgan Johnson
Mixer: Patrick Navarre
CD/ EP: Kelly Bayett
Producer: Ashley Benton
Sound Recording for Davey Interview Sneaky Big Studios
Senior Producer: Heather Candelaria
Audio Engineer: Mike Martin
Studio Engineer: Tom Carlisle
Sound Recording for Hicks Interview Decimal Media (Kenya)
Eric Musyoka
Sound Recording for Berehulak Interview
Production Coordinator Mexico: Ana Ibarra
Production Assistant Mexico: Lucia Diez Marina
Sound Mixer Mexico: Jorge Torres

@KristinaMonllos kristina.monllos@adweek.com Kristina Monllos is a senior editor for Adweek.