EWC Journalism Fellow Maria Ressa Wins Nobel Peace Prize

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HONOLULU (Oct. 8, 2021) – East-West Center is thrilled to learn that acclaimed Philippines journalist and EWC distinguished journalism fellow Maria Ressa has been awarded the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize. Ressa, who has faced government prosecution and relentless online attacks for her courageous reporting on the Duterte regime, was awarded the Peace Prize alongside threatened Russian independent newspaper editor Dmitry Muratov.

In announcing the awards, the Norwegian Nobel Committee said Ressa and Muratov “are representatives of all journalists who stand up for freedom of expression in a world in which democracy and freedom of the press face increasingly adverse conditions.” Ressa, they said, “has shown herself to be a fearless defender of freedom of expression … to expose abuse of power, use of violence and growing authoritarianism in her native country.”

In 2020, Ressa was named an EWC Chaplin Fellow, a distinguished lectureship that recognizes journalists of extraordinary accomplishment, and gave an online address on “Press Freedom Under Fire.” She was previously honored as an EWC Journalist of Courage and Impact at the Center’s 2018 International Media Conference in Singapore, where she spoke on “Undermining the Free Press in Asia.”

“Maria is courageous, committed and an inspiration to journalists around the world,” said EWC Media Programs Manager Susan Kreifels. “We are beyond proud to have her as part of our EWC media family.”

Maria RessaAbout Maria Ressa:
Maria A. Ressa is the CEO and Executive Editor of the Rappler social news network. Previously. she spent two decades working as an investigative reporter, foreign correspondent, and both Manila and Jakarta Bureau Chief for CNN before heading the news division of the Philippine's biggest TV news channel, ABS-CBN, which the Duterte government later shut down.

Ressa’s work at Rappler and in fighting attempts to silence the free press and the spread of disinformation – including what she’s called the “weaponization” of social media platforms by extremists and autocrats –have won her plaudits around the world. She was among several journalists collectively named Time Magazine’s Person of the Year in 2018, as well as receiving numerous other prestigious journalism awards.

Ressa and Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte have been crossing paths for over thirty years. In 2015, during his presidential election campaign, she conducted a now-infamous interview with Duterte in which he confessed to killing three people.

After his election in 2016, Rappler began shining a spotlight on the pro-Duterte online “troll army” and reporting critically on the extrajudicial killings, human rights violations and fast-rising death toll from the president’s brutal war on drugs. An onslaught of government actions against Maria and Rappler soon followed, resulting in her arrest first on tax evasion charges and later on an unprecedented “cyber libel” charge relating to a story first published in 2012.

Ressa and a colleague were later convicted on that charge by a Manila court and face up to six years in prison. They are currently free on bond pending appeal.