Journalists Win Nobel Peace Prize

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Amidst a global attack on journalistic freedom, Filipino-American reporter Maria Ressa and Russian reporter Dmitri A. Muratov were co-awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on Oct. 8, 2021.

This is only the third time a journalist has been awarded the prize in its 120 year lifespan, the first two being Italian peace activist Ernesto Moneta in 1907 and German political activist Carl von Ossietzky in 1935.

“Ms. Ressa and Mr. Muratov are receiving the Peace Prize for their courageous fight for freedom of expression in the Philippines and Russia,” the Norwegian Nobel Committee said in a press release. “At the same time, they are 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 two awardees have shown a heroic dedication to the principles of journalism throughout their careers, putting themselves directly in harm’s way for the benefit of the public. That being said, the announcement was shocking to both parties.

“I didn’t know how to react, and then, wow,” Ressa said in an interview with the New York Times. “The folks clapped and asked me for a reaction, and it hit me. It’s so much that we’ve gone through in the last five and a half years and then this. These highs and lows are making me crazy.”

I didn’t know how to react, and then, wow”

— Maria Ressa

Ressa’s investigative journalism company, Rappler, has made monumental strides in uncovering government corruption in Asia, as well as the dangerous impacts social media has on the spread of misinformation. Her company works to prevent federal manipulation in public issues, specifically within election discourse and the larger news cycle.

“I don’t think we have wrapped our heads around how much technology has allowed the manipulation of individuals and democracies,” Ressa said in a 2019 interview with the Financial Times.

Similarly, Muratov has used his role of editor-in-chief for the Novaya Gazeta to advocate for freedom of speech in Russia and provide uncensored information to the masses. For Muratov in particular, this stance against authoritarian principles has led to the loss of many friends and co-workers.

“Igor Domnikov, Yuri Shchekochikhin, Anna Politkovskaya, Stas Markelov, Anastasia Baburova, Natasha Estemirova – these are the people who have today won the Nobel Prize,” Muratov said after receiving the award, listing the names of journalists who had been killed while working on Novaya Gazeta.

Intimidation from despotic governments has forced an increasing number of reporters into hiding, fearing for the safety of themselves and their families. This year’s prize recipients are just two of many courageous citizens committed to exposing government malpractice in the hopes of a brighter, freer tomorrow.

“I’ll tell you this,” Muratov told Russian news agency TASS. “This is not my merit. This is Novaya Gazeta. These are those who died defending the right of people to freedom of speech.”