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2021 Nobel Peace Prize Winners Underscore Perils Faced by Journalists

A statement from the Authors Guild

“We commend the Committee’s selection of journalists Maria Ressa of the Philippines and Dmitri A. Muratov of Russia for this year’s Nobel Peace Prize,” said Authors Guild CEO Mary Rasenberger. “Ressa and Muratov are both editors of independent news outlets in autocratic regimes, and both regularly face harassment, arrest, and bodily harm both to themselves and the journalists who work with them for simply reporting the truth. In naming them Nobel Laureates, the Nobel Committee not only recognizes Ressa and Muratov’s courageous contributions to a free press but also helps call attention to the alarming number of challenges journalists around the world face, including in the United States.”

Ressa, an investigative journalist and Fulbright Scholar, co-founded Rappler, a digital media company that has exposed government corruption under the Duterte administration in the Philippines, including documenting the financial holdings and potential conflicts of interest of top Duterte leaders. Known for her crusading efforts related to the Duterte government’s violent anti-drug campaign, she previously was recognized as a Time Person of the Year in 2018. According to The Washington Post, Ressa is “a strong opponent of violence against female journalists more broadly…who has done pioneering reporting on cyber-harassment, online trolls, and disinformation and misinformation campaigns,” Ressa has faced multiple criminal charges because Rappler continues to challenge President Duterte’s rule.

Muratov, the founding editor and current editor-in-chief of the Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta, has worked hard to strengthen independent media in Russia since the fall of the Soviet Union in extremely challenging conditions. The publication is known for hard-hitting investigative work, breaking big stories about the war in Chechnya, on which Muratov himself reported, and corruption by the oligarchs linked to President Putin’s regime. As a result of these stories, six journalists who wrote for Muratov’s paper were murdered. For now, Novaya Gazeta remains one of the few independent news outlets that Putin has not yet legally designated a “foreign agent.” Muratov accepted the prize in the name of the killed journalists. 

As the Norwegian Nobel Committee today stated, it is “convinced that freedom of expression and freedom of information are crucial prerequisites for democracy and protect against war and conflict. The 2021 peace prize laureates are representative of all journalists who stand up for this ideal in a world in which democracy and freedom of the press face increasingly adverse conditions.”