Saturday October 9, 2021
The Norwegian Nobel Committee sent a strong signal of support Friday for independent journalism in an era of increasing threats and crackdowns, awarding the Nobel Peace Prize to editors Maria Ressa of the Philippines and Dmitry Muratov of Russia for their work amid authoritarian pressures in their countries.Under Russian President Vladimir Putin, journalists have been assassinated and many independent new outlets have closed or been taken over by Kremlin-friendly oligarchs. Muratov’s Novaya Gazeta is one of the few strong, independent newspapers surviving in Russia.
The decision also sought to call attention to the potential dangers to democracies posed by disinformation and other false narratives presented as facts on social media and elsewhere.
“Free, independent and fact-based journalism serves to protect against abuse of power, lies and war propaganda,” said Berit Reiss-Andersen, chair of the Nobel Committee, in announcing the awards.
In the Philippines, Ressa and her news organization, Rappler, have repeatedly been targeted through campaigns of online harassment and criminal charges widely seen as politically motivated under the direction of President Rodrigo Duterte.
Reiss-Andersen praised Ressa and Muratov as standard-bearers for “all journalists who stand up for this ideal in a world in which democracy and freedom of the press face increasingly adverse conditions.”
In the Philippines, 87 journalists have been killed since 1992, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists, while 58 journalists have been killed in Russia in that period and seven are missing.
The number of journalists jailed hit a high last year, the group said, with at least 274 journalists behind bars around the world as of late 2020 because of their work.
Joel Simon, executive director of the Committee to Protect Journalists, itself a nominee this year, said in a statement that the selection of Ressa and Muratov “is a powerful recognition of their tireless work, and that of journalists all around the world. Their struggle is our struggle.”