Nobel Peace Laureates highlight the role of journalism against authoritarianism

WASHINGTON – Two world leaders in press freedom accepted the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo: the first time since 1936 that the profession has been recognized with one of the most prestigious awards in the world.

Underlining the importance of journalism in the fight against authoritarianism, the Nobel Committee honored Maria Ressa, co-founder and editor of the Philippine independent news site Rappler, and Dmitry Muratov, longtime editor-in-chief of Novaya Gazeta, Russia’s independent newspaper.

Both awardees and their colleagues have been harassed, intimidated and subjected to violence for their work denouncing injustice and abuse at the highest level.

In her acceptance speech, Ressa, a former winner of the highest award International Center for Journalists (ICFJ), noted that she was only the 18th woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. He affirmed that journalists are “at the epicenter of risk” and added: “We must stop this pandemic of misogyny and hatred, now.”

Ressa pointed out that by accepting the award he represents journalists “who are forced to sacrifice a lot to maintain the line, to be faithful to their values ​​and mission: to bring the truth and hold power to account.” He cited a long list of journalists who have been killed, imprisoned or persecuted for their work, from Malta to Saudi Arabia and Hong Kong.

The journalist harshly criticized media outlets that make money by stoking violence and hatred, citing Facebook as the world’s largest disinformation and news distributor. “These destructive companies have diverted money from the news media and now pose a threat to markets and elections.”

He called for the regulation of what he called “the surveillance economy that benefits from hatred and lies” and that the United States “amend or repeal section 230: the law that treats social media platforms as public services.”

Ressa, a longtime CNN reporter, also said journalism must be rebuilt for the 21st century, with fact-based information ecosystems. “We have to help independent journalism survive, first by giving greater protection to journalists and by standing up to states that attack journalists.”

In his Nobel acceptance speech, Muratov said that journalism in Russia is “going through a dark valley.” More than a hundred journalists, media, human rights defenders and NGOs have been classified as “foreign agents”.

In Russia, this means “enemies of the people.” “Many of our colleagues have lost their jobs. Some have to leave the country. Some are deprived of the opportunity to lead a normal life for an unknown period of time. Maybe forever, ”he said.

Describing torture as the most serious crime against humanity, Muratov announced plans to create an international tribunal against torture. He stated that he would collect information on the practice in different parts of the world and identify the responsible authorities. And he said the initiative would depend on investigative journalists from around the world.

“We hear more and more about torture of convicts and detainees. People are being tortured to breaking point, to make the prison sentence even more brutal. This situation is outrageous.

This year, the ICFJ collaborated with Ressa and Rappler to publish a case study based on big data which detailed the intensity and ferocity of online violence directed at Ressa over a five-year period. The investigation found evidence that some of the attacks were coordinated or orchestrated, which is a hallmark of state-led disinformation campaigns.

Ressa too She is the subject of multiple lawsuits aimed at silencing her and her colleagues. You face the possibility of spending decades behind bars if you are convicted of all charges. The ICFJ and the #HoldTheLine coalition continue to call for these spurious allegations to be dropped.

The ICFJ co-leads the Coalition – a group of more than 80 groups defending Ressa and press freedom in the Philippines, along with the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) and Reporters Without Borders (RSF). Ressa thanked the Coalition, as well as all human rights groups “who help us to shine the light.”

East Article was originally published in IJNET, the international network of journalists.


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Nobel Peace Laureates highlight the role of journalism against authoritarianism