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Rappler’s Maria Ressa is joint winner of Nobel Peace Prize for 2021

08 October 2021

By The SUN 

Maria Ressa is honored for her work in safeguarding free speech in the Philippines

Maria Ressa, co-founder and chief executive officer of Rappler, the Philippines’ leading digital media company, is one of two journalists who have just been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for 2021. She is the first Filipino to receive the prestigious award.

The other winner is Dmitry Muratov, co-founder and later, editor-in-chief of Novaja Gazeta, widely regarded as the most independent newspaper in Russia today.

In announcing the joint award today, Oct 8, the Norwegian Nobel Committee said Ressa and Muratov were being honored “for their efforts to safeguard freedom of expression, which is a precondition for democracy and lasting peace.”

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The two are said to represent all journalists who stand up for the ideal of free speech “in a world in which democracy and freedom of the press face increasingly adverse conditions.”

In particular, Ressa was cited for her use of “freedom of expression to expose abuse of power, use of violence and growing authoritarianism in her native country, the Philippines.”

When first told of the award by the Nobel committee via a recorded phone call, the usually loquacious Ressa could only stay, “I am speechless. Thank you so very much.”


Later, during an interview with Rappler, Ressa was asked why she thought the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to journalists at the time of the pandemic, instead of the usual scientists who come up with ground-breaking work to help mankind.

“I guess what this just shows is that the Nobel Peace Prize Committee realized that a world without facts means a world without truth and trust. And if you don’t have any of these things you certainly cannot conquer the coronavirus, you cannot conquer climate change.”

Separately, Rappler’s editor-in-chief Glenda Gloria said: “Thank you so much. This is Maria's and Rappler's as much as it is yours!”

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Rappler is honored – and astounded – by the Nobel Peace Prize Award given to our CEO Maria Ressa. It could not have come at a better time – a time when journalists and the truth are being attacked and undermined.”

“We thank the Nobel for recognizing all journalists both in the Philippines and in the world who continue to shine the light even in the darkest and toughest hours. hank you to everyone who has been part of the daily struggle to uphold the truth and who continues to hold the line with us.”

Ressa speaks at a rally in the Philippines shortly after she was ordered arrested

For years, Ressa was under intense fire from powerful forces because of Rappler’s exposes on the thousands of killings committed in the Philippines under President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs.

“The number of deaths is so high that the campaign resembles a war waged against the country’s own population,” said the Nobel committee in recognizing Ressa’s work.

With Ressa at the helm, Rappler also documented how social media has been used by pro-government forces in spreading fake news, harassing opponents, and manipulating public opinion.

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As a result, the veteran Filipina journalist has been sued eight times, got arrested and convicted of cyber libel, and was ordered to post millions of pesos in bail and travel bonds. On top of these, she was slapped with trumped-up charges ranging from securities fraud to tax evasion, which threatened to get Rappler off cyberspace.

Not content with these, Duterte supporters subjected Ressa to the vilest insults, even death threats, on social media. But she never wavered. Instead, she told journalists to “hold the line,” meaning, they should not be cowed by the repressions and attempts to hide the truth to favor those in power.

Before founding Rappler, Ressa worked as bureau chief for CNN International and news chief of ABS-CBN, the Philippines’ broadcast media giant which was forced to close down in May last year after its franchise was cancelled by pro-government legislators.

Ressa, who is 58, graduated cum laude with a B.A. degree in English and certificates in theater and dance from the prestigious Princeton University in the United States in 1986.[  She then studied political theater at the University of the Philippines in Diliman as a Fullbright scholar.

Muratov is cited for keeping his newspaper's independent stance amid threats and violence

Muratov, on the other hand, was cited for his decades of work in defending “freedom of speech in Russia under increasingly challenging conditions.”

Since its founding in 1993, his newspaper Novaja Gazeta is said to have published stories critical of the powers-that-be, including those that dealt with corruption, police violence, unlawful arrests, electoral fraud and the use of Russian military forces both within and outside the country.

Its fiercely independent stance has resulted in six of its journalists getting killed, but with Muratov at the helm since 1995, the newspaper has refused to yield to pressure.

Muratov is said to have consistently defended the right of journalists to write freely, as long as they comply with professional and ethical standards.

“Free, independent and fact-based journalism serves to protect against abuse of power, lies and war propaganda,” said a press release announcing the award to the two journalists.

“The Norwegian Nobel Committee is convinced that freedom of expression and freedom of information help to ensure an informed public. These rights are crucial prerequisites for democracy and protect against war and conflict.”

“The award of the Nobel Peace Prize to Maria Ressa and Dmitry Muratov is intended to underscore the importance of protecting and defending these fundamental rights.

“Without freedom of expression and freedom of the press, it will be difficult to successfully promote fraternity between nations, disarmament and a better world order to succeed in our time.”

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