The New York Times Tackles Government Secrecy in Its Latest ‘Truth Is Hard to Find’ Ad

Investigative editor Mark Mazzetti narrates

The Droga5 campaign continues to position the Times as an essential resource. The New York Times
Headshot of Erik Oster

The latest New York Times spot for its “The Truth Is Hard to Find” campaign takes a direct route to that message, via a bevy of redacted government documents and an increasing lack of transparency in recent administrations across parties and ideologies.

Droga5 launched the campaign in February with a series of print ads, OOH work and a 30-second spot that made its broadcast debut during the Academy Awards on Feb. 26. That bare bones effort delivered a message about “the truth” with just text and audio. The agency kicked off the second phase of the campaign on April 21 with a series of spots directed by Darren Aronofsky that highlight the risks photojournalists face when working in the most dangerous corners of the world.

The newest addition to “The Truth Is Hard to Find” features The New York Times’ Washington investigations editor, Mark Mazzetti, narrating how journalists attempt to force government agencies to be accountable and transparent.

Since 2001, the Times has filed dozens of requests for public information, backed up by the Freedom of Information Act, spanning both the Bush and Obama administrations. During the last administration, this work helped uncover new information on government surveillance and drone-strike programs.

Now more than ever, transparency is a hot-button issue as the current president breaks with decades of tradition by refusing to release his tax returns and declining to share information regarding his family’s business interests around the world, but The New York Times argues this lack of transparency is nothing new.

Mazzetti stresses that “secrecy in government is not something that came around this year,” nor is it a partisan issue. The ink-stained vet said secrecy in government is something that has grown “across the years, over several administrations.” His words are paired with striking images of redacted government documents unearthed by investigative efforts that ultimately uncovered the National Security Administration’s secretive wiretapping program.

The spot made its broadcast debut on Saturday and will run through May 2. It harkens back to the minimalism of the campaign’s debut effort. And it focuses on the idea that the truth is both “hard to find” and “more important now than ever,” implying that without quality journalism, the lack of sufficient government transparency could easily get much worse.

“No other media organization has done more than The New York Times to fight for the public’s right to information about their federal, state and local governments,” publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. said in a statement. “From the Pentagon Papers to the National Security Agency’s warrantless wiretapping and more, our legacy of holding government to account makes us proud.”

Client: The New York Times
Campaign: Dedicated Journalists
Title: The Truth is Hard to Find – Mark Mazzetti
Launch Date: 4/29/17

Agency: Droga5 NY
Creative Chairman: David Droga
Chief Creative Officer: Ted Royer
Executive Creative Director: Tim Gordon
ACD Copywriter: Brian Eden
ACD Art Director: Ben Grube
Junior Copywriter: Mitchell Quesada
Junior Art Director: Fatima Jafri
Chief Content Creation Officer: Sally Ann Dale
Co-Director of Film Production: Jesse Brihn
Co-Director of Film Production: Bryan Litman
Associate Producer, Film: Kylie Loeffler
Integrated Production Business Manager: Grant Thompson
Internal Legal Counsel: Erica Palaia
Global Chief Strategy Officer: Jonny Bauer
Co-Head of Strategy: Harry Roman
Strategy Director: Tom Gibby
Head of Communications Strategy: Colleen Leddy
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
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

Editorial: D5 Studios
Senior Editor: Matt Badger
Post Producer: CJ Trahan
Associate Post Producer: Brielle Mordant

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

Sound & Mix: Sonic Union
Audio Post Mixer: Michael Marinelli
Audio Post Mixer: Fernando Ascani
Audio Post Producer: Pat Sullivan

Sound: Barking Owl
Sound Designer: Morgan Johnson
CD/ EP: Kelly Bayett
Producer: Ashley Benton

@ErikDOster Erik Oster is an agencies reporter for Adweek.