The global news industry is applauding the award of the Nobel Peace Prize to journalists Maria Ressa and Dmitry Muratov, both recipients of WAN-Ifra’s Golden Pen of Freedom.
Making the announcement, chair of the award committee Berit Reiss-Andersen noted that “free, independent and fact-based journalism serves to protect against abuse of power, lies and war propaganda.
“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.”
The awards were made to Ressa of the Philippines and Muratov of Russia, “for their efforts to safeguard freedom of expression, which is a precondition for democracy and lasting peace.”
Ressa received the Golden Pen of Freedom in 2018, and Muratov in 2016.
Reacting to the announcement this morning, Maria Ressa said she didn’t think the award was for her, “I think this is Rappler.
“I have – we have – all along said this since 2016, that that we are fighting for facts.
“And when we live in a world where facts are debatable, when the world’s largest distributor of news prioritises the spread of lies laced with anger and hate, and spreads it faster and further than facts, then journalism becomes activism… In a battle for facts, I guess what this just shows is that that the Nobel Peace Prize committee realised that a world without facts means a world without truth and trust.”
Ressa's 30 year career as a journalist in Asia spanned various media. Her interest and talents in technology and new media were an impetus for her becoming one of the founders and eventually the chief executive of Rappler, a social news network that aims to inspire community engagement and fuel social change.
Since the 2016 election of president Rodrigo Duterte, Rappler has suffered under a highly targeted online campaign by supporters of the controversial head of state.
Dmitry Muratov is editor-in-chief of Novaya Gazeta, a publication which has already suffered heavily for its commitment to truth and journalism.
Six of its journalists have been killed in retaliation for their work or have died under suspicious circumstances, and many of its staff receive regular threats. Most prominent of these was investigative journalist Anna Politkovskaya, who was shot dead in the lift of her block of flats.
Muratov reiterated his commitment to representing Russian journalism, which he says is now being suppressed. “That’s all. We will try to help people who are now labelled as ‘foreign agents’, who are being attacked and expelled from the country.”
Straits Times editor-in-chief and World Editors Forum president Warren Fernandez said the awards announcement was “very good news for credible journalism.
“Both Maria and Dmitry have been tireless and courageous in their efforts to report the news as they see it. This well deserved recognition by the Nobel committee will help encourage them and also serve as a source of much needed inspiration to journalists everywhere.”
INMA executive director Earl Wilkinson said the award was a reminder of the fight confronted by news media, some of which were typically concerned with business models and revenue. “Maria’s achievement today is a reminder there is a parallel battle that news media is fighting worldwide: a dilution of democracy via government attacks on facts and truth.
“In one form or another, this battle is happening on every continent today,” he said. “And, frankly, you can’t separate the fight for press freedom from the fight for a sustainable business model, of which the pillars are journalism, community and technology.”