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The Nobel Peace Prize: A huge honor for the courageous journalist Maria Ressa

Maria Ressa (CEO & Executive Editor, Rappler)

Maria Ressa: A calm voice speaking out against the powerful figures of our world

"She's a woman easy to miss in a crowd. Standing just a little over five feet, journalist Maria Ressa looks like any other young Asian going through life quietly."

Those are the opening lines of a portrait of her written in Philstar, a newspaper in the Philippines. When she opens her mouth, however, two things strike you about her: first, that she has a soft voice; and second, the stories that she has to tell.

That portrait is from 2003, but not much has changed since then. One thing that has, however, is that when Maria Ressa speaks nowadays, the whole world listens to what she has to say. That’s because her words are vitally important. These days, the wider world beyond the Philippines is aware that this woman will not be intimidated by anyone. As a journalist, she is prepared to fight for her convictions.

 

DMEXCO 2020 – Maria Ressa (Rappler.com): Attitude & Digitization as relevant impacts for press freedom

Maria Ressa at DMEXCO20: Press freedom and digitization

When Maria Ressa sat down with Nikolaus Röttger in September 2020 at DMEXCO20 for their Fireside Chat about the role of the digital transformation in journalism, she referred to the eight legal cases that she is currently fighting. These related to eight arrest warrants and one travel ban placed on her. That is the price that she must pay for her courage.

But this courage has also brought her worldwide recognition. After already receiving several prestigious accolades (the “Democracy Award 2017” from the National Democratic Institute, the “Golden Pen of Freedom Award 2018” from the World Association of News Publishers, “Person of the Year 2018” from American Time magazine), she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on December 10, 2021, for her outstanding lifetime achievements.

Maria Ressa and the fight for press freedom

Following on from her first job, Maria Ressa joined broadcaster CNN. She initially served as CNN’s bureau chief in Manila, before running the CNN editorial team in Jakarta from 1995 to 2005. During that period, she was already becoming one of the leading investigative journalists for CNN Asia, specializing in terrorism. This brought her powerful enemies. In 2012, Maria Ressa established the Philippine news site Rappler.

Her work has always focused on the important topic of safeguarding press freedom and fighting against lies and false news.

In late June 2016, Rodrigo Duterte was sworn in as President of the Philippines. Just a few short weeks after the election, he began to implement his merciless policies. His “War on Drugs” has resulted in the deaths of at least 20,000 people, mainly small-time dealers, drug addicts, and innocent bystanders. News site Rappler is one of the few media outlets in the Philippines to continue to publish critical reports, but that has led to its journalists receiving violent threats. Despite fearing for their lives, however, they have continued their work – led by a small woman with a quiet voice, who has absolutely no intention of being intimidated by anyone.

We congratulate Maria Ressa from the bottom of our hearts for being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, and we wish her strength as she continues her fight for press freedom.

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