“Let me go back to a fundamental thing we all used to agree on: information is power. That’s why we became journalists in the first place.”
~ Maria Ressa
Maria Ressa of Philippines is one of the recipients of the 2021 Nobel Prize for Peace, the other being Dmitry Muratov of Russia. What is special about this year’s Nobel Peace Prize is that it is after a wait of 86 years that this most prestigious prize comes to journalists. The last Nobel Peace Prize won by a journalist was way back in 1935, by a German named Carl Von Ossietzky for his “burning love for freedom of thought and expression” after revealing that the Nazi regime was secretly rearming in breach of the World War I peace accord. In a world filled with half-truths, lies and hatred, the award this year reiterates the core values of freedom, courage, truth, peace and fraternity.
Maria Ressa used freedom of expression to expose abuse of power, use of violence and growing authoritarianism in her native country, the Philippines. In 2012 she co-founded Rappler, a digital media company for investigative journalism. She has shown herself to be a fearless champion and defender of freedom of expression. Through Rappler, she fought against the government’s dangerous and controversial drug policy. The anti-drug campaign of the regime was so murderous that so many people lost their lives as if the government was at war against its own people. She questioned the government policy head-on, as she says, “Any journalist who asked critical questions, anyone on social media who questioned about the extrajudicial killings was bombarded with abuse, threats of violence, death threats from trolls and bots and these fake Facebook accounts.”
Joe Eruppakkatt, a former editor for ST PAULS Publications and The Teenager Today, has been actively involved in the field of print media in India, the U.S., Great Britain and Nigeria. He is currently working for ST PAULS, New Delhi.