Filipino journalist Maria Ressa, the founder of Rappler, digital media company for investigative journalism, won the Nobel Peace Prize 2021 for "courageous fight for freedom of expression" in her homeland, the Philippines. Though her nomination was known, the fact that she won the Nobel Prize finally brings forth faith in the spirit of journalism all over the world.
Announcing the Nobel for Ressa along with Russian journalist Dmitry Muratov, the Norwegian Nobel Committee said it chose them for their efforts to safeguard freedom of expression, "which is a precondition for democracy and lasting peace."
As representatives of all journalists who stand up for this ideal in a world in which democracy and freedom of the press face increasingly adverse conditions, the award goes out to all those who stood state oppression and intimidation in their countries.
"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," the committee said. Ressa stood her point throughout her fight against the cases she fought in the courts and outside.
Ressa fought despite all odds
Investigative journalist and co-founder and CEO of Rappler, Ressa has spent nearly two decades in the field and was convicted of cyberlibel by the Filipino government in 2020 under the controversial Philippine Anti-Cybercrime law.
The case attracted strong criticism all over the world as the article on businessman Wilfredo Keng cited in the case was published on May 29, 2012, months before the Philippines' cybercrime law was enacted on Sept. 12, 2012. But the prosecution defended its act blatantly based on a typo in the article that was corrected after the Act came into effect. The move was seen as sole act to suppress the outspoken critic of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte.
Nominating her to Nobel, Norwegian labor leader and parliamentary representative Jonas Gahr Store said, "She is thus both a symbol and a representative of thousands of journalists around the world. The nomination fulfills key aspects of what is emphasized as peace-promoting in Alfred Nobel's will. A free and independent press can inform about and help to limit and stop a development that leads to armed conflict and war."
Ressa is not alone. In fact, she is representative of many journalists who are put behind bars in many Asian and Southeast Asian countries. She is also part of the global journalists fighting fake news under IFCN and she is one of the 25 leading figures on the Information and Democracy Commission launched by Reporters Without Borders. The prize for Ressa goes out to everry investigative journalist in the world to prove the point.