Lest we forget
THE WEEK|October 31, 2021
Survival of independent journalism depends on readers, listeners and viewers, reminds this year’s Nobel Peace Prize

BARBARA TRIONFI, Executive director, International Press Institute

The decision of the Nobel committee to award the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize to two journalists, Maria Ressa and Dmitry Muratov, was wonderful news for those of us who strive to raise awareness about the numerous attacks on journalists worldwide and explain to the public about why they should care.

For us at the International Press Institute (IPI), a global network of editors and journalists dedicated to independent journalism, the award represents yet another validation of IPI’s vision. When IPI was established in 1950 following the horror and suffering of World War II, its 34 founding editors wrote: “World peace depends on understanding between peoples and peoples. If peoples are to understand one another, it is essential that they have good information.” Ever since, IPI has worked to promote conditions for independent, quality, public-interest journalism to exist, because this is the very foundation of democracy and global peace.

Seven decades later, the recognition given by the Nobel committee to two very worthy journalists “for their efforts to safeguard freedom of expression, which is a precondition for democracy and lasting peace” comes at a critical time. With authoritarianism on the rise across the world, the Covid-19 pandemic struck a fatal blow to many independent news organisations that were already struggling to survive in a world where governments see the media industry’s financial weakness as an opportunity to take control of the message.

Ressa and Muratov share so much more than this year’s Nobel Peace Prize. They share a life dedicated to ensuring that people have access to independent news in countries where it is heavily restricted. They share the need and ability to identify innovative ways to ensure the survival and success of their news outlets in spite of the immense pressure under which they operate. And they share an admirable courage and resilience, while facing relentless attacks against themselves and their staff.

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