The Norwegian Nobel Committee has announced the winners of the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize: Maria Ressa and Dmitry Muratov.
Both journalists have “safeguarded the freedom of expression” and represent “all journalists who stand up to this ideal”. The chair of the Nobel Committee, Berit Reiss-Andersen, recognised “their courageous fight for freedom of expression in the Philippines and Russia”, claiming the efforts made by Ressa and Muratov during adverse times for democracy and press freedom were notable.
The pair have produced investigative journalism which angered their country’s rulers. Ressa exposed authoritarians’ abuse of power and use of violence in the Philippines, while Muratov reported on the violation of freedom of speech in Russia in the past decades. Out of 329 candidates, Ressa and Muratov were chosen to be awarded the prize.
These journalists strive for face-based journalism. Reiss-Andersen states it is important for newspapers to be free, independent, and fact-based. This is because the press “protect against abuse of power, lies and war propaganda”, also “promote fraternity between nations, disarmament and a better world order”.
Journalist Ressa, a Filipino-American and the CEO of Rappler, has investigated “[President Rodrigo] Duterte regime’s controversial, murderous anti-drug campaign” in 2012, and unravelled the social media’s role to “spread fake news, harass opponents and manipulate public discourse”. Ressa was then convicted of cyber libel in 2020 under Philippine law, Rappler was also called a “fake news outlet” after the Duterte and drug story. Ressa spoke out about this accusation, saying her team has always been “fighting for facts”. She believes “a world without facts means a world without truth and trust.”
The professional integrity of Rappler is also demonstrated in Novaya Gazeta, the newspaper which Dmitry Muratov has been working for 24 years. Novaya Gazeta is known for defying the corruption of the Russian president, Vladimir Putin’s Kremlin, as well as documenting the on-going conflict in Ukraine. The Nobel Committee describes the newspaper as “truly critical” and claims it to be a “national influence in Russia today”. Muratov was responsible for editing the newspaper between 1995 and 2017, he then won a CPJ international press freedom award in 2017. Like Ressa, Muratov was faced with threats and imprisonment. Yet he refuses to be suppressed, he said his team “will try to help people who are now labelled as ‘foreign agents’, who are being attacked and expelled from the country”.