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Note: This article was originally published on May 16, 2021 and was republished on October 8, 2021 after Maria Ressa was announced to be one of the winners of the 2021 Nobel peace prize.
The UN’s cultural agency UNESCO awarded its annual Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize 2021 to the Filipino journalist Maria Ressa. Ressa’s reporting has made her a target of her country’s judiciary and online hate campaigns. Maria has been subject to a sustained campaign of gendered online abuse, threats, and harassment, and as the jury said her case is emblematic of global trends that represent a real threat to press freedom and therefore to democracy. Ressa was also named Time Magazine’s person of the year in 2018.
In an exclusive conversation with The Wire, Ressa spoke with Mitali Mukherjee about the biggest threat to free press and democracies.
Ressa’s news website Rappler has consistently shone a light on the Duterte government’s activities, for which she has often received hate speech online. Ressa also points out that hate speech and disinformation spread faster than facts on social media. Social media platforms affect the way we think, act, and also the health of our democracies she said, and that is what makes the role of independent journalism even more crucial.