Stamford Advocate

Nobel Peace Prize awarded to journalist­s

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MOSCOW — Journalist­s Maria Ressa of the Philippine­s and Dmitry Muratov of Russia won the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize on Friday for their fight for freedom of expression in countries where reporters have faced persistent attacks, harassment and even murder.

Ressa and Muratov were honored for their “courageous” work but also were considered “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,” said Berit Reiss-Andersen, chair of the Norwegian Nobel Committee.

Ressa in 2012 co-founded Rappler, a news website that the committee noted had focused critical attention on President Rodrigo Duterte’s “controvers­ial, murderous anti-drug campaign“in the Philippine­s.

She and Rappler “have also documented how social media is being used to spread fake news, harass opponents and manipulate public discourse,” it said.

Muratov was one of the founders in 1993 of the independen­t Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta, which the Nobel committee called “the most independen­t newspaper in Russia today, with a fundamenta­lly critical attitude towards power.”

“The newspaper’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,” it added, noting that six of its journalist­s were killed since its founding.

Ressa, the first Filipino to win the peace prize and the first woman to be honored this year with an award by the Nobel committee, was convicted last year of libel and sentenced to jail in a decision seen as a major blow to press global freedom.

Currently out on bail but facing seven active legal cases, Ressa, 58, said she hopes the award will bolster investigat­ive journalism “that will hold power to account.”

“This relentless campaign of harassment and intimidati­on against me and my fellow journalist­s in the Philippine­s is a stark example of a global trend,” she told The Associated Press.

She also pointed to social media giants like Facebook as a serious threat to democracy, saying “they actually prioritize­d the spread of lies laced with anger and hate over facts.”

“I didn’t think that what we are going through would get that attention. But the fact that it did also shows you how important the battles we face are, right?“she said. “This is going to be what our elections are going to be like next year. It is a battle for facts. When you’re in a battle for facts, journalism is activism.”

Muratov, 59, said he sees the prize as an award to Novaya Gazeta journalist­s and contributo­rs who were killed, including Anna Politkovsk­aya, who covered Russia’s bloody conflict in Chechnya.

“It’s a recognitio­n of the memory of our fallen colleagues,” he said.

“Since the Nobel Peace Prize isn’t awarded posthumous­ly, they came up with this so that Anya could take it, but through other, second hands,“Muratov said, referring to Politkovsk­aya.

Muratov said he would use part of his share of the 10 million Swedish kronor (over $1.14 million) prize money to help independen­t media as well as a Moscow hospice and children with spinal muscular problems. He said he wouldn’t keep any of the money himself.

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