Berit Reiss-Anderson, the chair of the Norwegian Nobel committee, named journalists Maria Ressa and Dmitry Muratov as this year’s laureates for the prestigious Nobel peace prize.
Maria Ressa is a journalist from the Philippines and the chief executive and co-founder of Rappler, an online news platform that also plays a major role in the fight against misleading news as a fact-checker for Facebook in the Philippines. Dmitry Muratov is the editor-in-chief of Russian publication Novaya Gazeta, which the Nobel committee identifies as “the most independent newspaper in Russia today, with a fundamentally critical attitude towards power.”
Both journalists have risked their lives and reputations in the name of defending an independent media, a crucial factor to the survival of democracy, which, as the events of the past couple of years demonstrate, is increasingly threatened.
Ressa faces multiple criminal charges and investigations after publishing stories that critique the bloody drug wars of President Rodrigo Duterte. In response, she said on Rappler’s Facebook page: “This is a recognition of how hard it is to be a journalist today. How hard it is to keep doing what we do… It’s a recognition of the difficulties, but also hopefully of how we’re going to win the battle for truth. The battle for facts. We hold the line.”
Muratov, on top of being one of the founders of the independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta, has fulfilled the role of its editor-in-chief since 1995. He dedicates his Nobel peace prize to “those who died defending the right of people to freedom of speech,” and later begins to list journalists murdered in Russia for their investigative work: “It’s for Igor Domnikov, it’s for Yuri Shchekochikhin, it’s for Anna Stepanovna Politkovskaya, it’s for Nastya Baburova, it’s for Natasha Estemirova, for Stas Markelov. This is for them.”
According to the Nobel committee, Novaya Gazeta’s “fact-based journalism and professional integrity have made it an important source of information on censurable aspects of Russian society rarely mentioned by other media.” Muratov bravely continues his work in the face of harassment and threats of violence and murder.
NGO Reporters Without Borders (RSF) concluded that 24 journalists have been killed since the beginning of this year alone, while 350 others have been imprisoned. For RSF, the award is “a call for mobilization to defend journalism.”
In Ressa’s words, this significant award for fact-based journalists everywhere shows that the Nobel peace prize committee recognizes that “a world without facts means a world without truth and without trust.”