Making History, Journalist Duo Get Nobel Peace Prize

SRINAGAR: Two journalists, Maria Ressa and Dimitry Muratov have been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for 2021 for their “efforts to safeguard the freedom of expression”.

Maria Ressa and Dimitry Muratov

“The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided to award the Nobel Peace Prize for 2021 to Maria Ressa and Dmitry Muratov for their efforts to safeguard freedom of expression, which is a precondition for democracy and lasting peace,” read the press statement issued by the Nobel Committee.

“Ms Ressa and Mr Muratov are receiving the Peace Prize for their courageous fight for freedom of expression in the Philippines and Russia. At the same time, they are 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,” the statement further read.

Berit Reiss-Andersen, Chair of the Norwegian Nobel Committee in her remarks said that the awardees had used their journalistic platforms for the exercise of freedom of expression and to fight for the protection of freedom of expression.

“We wanted to illustrate what it means to dedicate your life to such an important task as this and to highlight two persons who have been extraordinary, courageous, and represent very professional journalism of high quality,” she said.

She said that the past year and a half with pandemic had particularly highlighted how important truth is for society.

“Without media, you cannot have a strong democracy,” she said.

Ressa is the first Filipino to win the Nobel Peace Prize. She co-founded Rappler, a digital media company for investigative journalism, of which she is currently the CEO.

She had been the target of attacks for her media organization’s critical coverage of President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration and a key leader in the global fight against disinformation.

“Journalism has never been as important as it is today. This is a recognition of how difficult it (journalism) is today,” she said to BBC.

A statement issued by Rappler said, “Rappler is honored – and astounded – by the Nobel Peace Prize Award given to our CEO Maria Ressa.”

“It could not have come at a better time – a time when journalists and the truth are being attacked and undermined,” it further read.

Dimitry Muratov, editor in chief of Novaya Gazeta had faced harrassment, threats and violence for its coverage of a range of topics from police violence, unlawful arrests, electoral fraud and “troll factories,” as well as the use of Russian military forces both within and outside Russia.

The publication had lost six of its journalists who were murdered for carrying out their work.

“Despite the killings and threats, editor-in-chief Muratov has refused to abandon the newspaper’s independent policy,” the Nobel committee said.

“He has consistently defended the right of journalists to write anything they want about whatever they want, as long as they comply with the professional and ethical standards of journalism.”

Here is a brief profile of the Nobel Prize winners released by the Nobel Prize Organization

Maria Ressa uses 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, which she still heads. As a journalist and the Rappler’s CEO, Ressa has shown herself to be a fearless defender of freedom of expression. Rappler has focused critical attention on the Duterte regime’s controversial, murderous anti-drug campaign. The number of deaths is so high that the campaign resembles a war waged against the country’s own population. Ms Ressa and Rappler have also documented how social media is being used to spread fake news, harass opponents and manipulate public discourse.

 

Dmitry Andreyevich Muratov has for decades defended freedom of speech in Russia under increasingly challenging conditions. In 1993, he was one of the founders of the independent newspaper Novaja Gazeta. Since 1995 he has been the newspaper’s editor-in-chief for a total of 24 years. Novaja Gazeta is 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. Since its start-up in 1993, Novaja Gazeta has published critical articles on subjects ranging from corruption, police violence, unlawful arrests, electoral fraud and ”troll factories” to the use of Russian military forces both within and outside Russia.

Novaja Gazeta’s opponents have responded with harassment, threats, violence and murder. Since the newspaper’s start, six of its journalists have been killed, including Anna Politkovskaja who wrote revealing articles on the war in Chechnya. Despite the killings and threats, editor-in-chief Muratov has refused to abandon the newspaper’s independent policy. He has consistently defended the right of journalists to write anything they want about whatever they want, as long as they comply with the professional and ethical standards of journalism.

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