For journalist Maria Ressa, the Nobel Peace Prize means “that we will keep doing what we are doing”. The 58-year-old fights in the Philippines against lies and propaganda by the Duterte government.
A Nobel Laureate with a mission, courage, and a motto: “My name is Maria Ressa. We are ‘Rappler’. And we will hold the line.”
“We hold the line” – Maria Ressa and the news portal “Rappler”, which she co-founded, hold up the flag of independent investigative journalism in the Philippines. You are among the sharpest critics of President Rodrigo Duterte. When 2016 was elected and its bloody anti-drug war began with thousands of deaths, they resolved to report fearlessly: of human rights violations, the distortion of facts, lies, hidden propaganda.
Happy for your team
For her fight against “fake news” Maria Ressa was voted one of the People of the Year 2018 by “Time Magazine”. Not only for them but also for many other journalists in the Philippines, the working conditions are becoming increasingly difficult. She is all the happier about being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize:
“I think at first I just feel shocked and am in awe. It’s really emotional. I am happy for my team and grateful that the Nobel Committee recognizes what we are going through”.
Journalists in the Philippines often live dangerously, and there are always murders or threats. The country’s largest radio and television station did not get a new license last year, and individual journalists are arrested or complained about. Maria Ressa herself has been arrested several times. She was convicted of tax evasion; however, she appealed and was released on bail.
“I want to do the right thing”
Duterte dismisses “Rappler” as “fake news”, financed by American corporations in order to harm the Philippines. And on the internet, Maria Ressa is threatened and insulted as a whore or bitch, snake or much worse. The 58-year-old does not show any fear, she does not shrink from anything.
It’s not just about prison. The way is the battle because there is so much more at stake. If it were all about me I would be silent. But it is much more than that. I became a journalist in 1986 and still am, and I want to do the right thing, for democracy, for journalism.
For twenty years she worked as an investigative journalist for the news channel CNN in many locations in Asia. In doing so, she gained experiences that she would not really want to see repeated in her home country.
Determined – against all odds
Nothing is more important to the 58-year-old than holding those in power responsible for their crimes, she once said, against all odds: “They want to intimidate you, harass you, and of course, the goal is for us to become quieter, to stop theirs Uncovering lies, “says Ressa. “But I have nothing to hide, I haven’t done anything wrong. And I’m determined to challenge the government – I’m not releasing them from their responsibilities.”
Today she says it’s getting harder and harder – social media allowed authoritarian politicians and dictators to abuse their algorithms. So they could seize power and undermine democracies from within. For Maria Ressa, the Nobel Peace Prize means “that we keep doing what we are doing. It gives us more energy, more attention. Because our biggest problem is that so much of what we are fighting remains in the dark.”
Hopefully, today’s award sheds enough light on this fight.