12:56 PM PDT, October 8, 2021
Freedom of speech champion Maria Ressa was nearly speechless after winning the Nobel Peace Prize for her work as a journalist in the Philippines.
“I was shocked, and I didn’t know how to react,” she said about the honor.
Ressa founded the news website Rappler. The outlet has been critical of police abuse and Filipino president Duterte’s violent war on drugs.
Because of that, Ressa says she has faced recriminations that threaten freedom of expression. “The Philippine government filed ten arrest warrants against me in the last year.”
She adds that she was arrested and convicted of cyber libel in the Philippines and faces jail time there.
“This relentless campaign of harassment and intimidation against me and my fellow journalists in the Philippines is a stark example of a global trend that journalists and freedom of the press facing increasingly adverse conditions.”
Ressa shared this year’s prize with Russian journalist Dmitry Muratov. He co-founded and edits a newspaper critical of the authoritarian regime of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
According to the Nobel Committee, the two free speech champions were awarded the prize “for their efforts to safeguard freedom of expression, which is a precondition for democracy and lasting peace.”
Ressa told the AP that the spread of disinformation — particularly over social media — is a massive threat to that democracy and lasting peace.
“The biggest problem we face right now is that the world’s largest distributor of news, its technology, Facebook, YouTube that they actually prioritized the spread of lies laced with anger and hate over facts.”
“So if you don’t have facts, you can’t have truth,” She added. “If you don’t have truth, you can’t have trust. Without any of these three, democracy as we know it is dead.”