You are the first Filipino to win a Nobel Peace Prize. What does this mean for your country? Usually, a journalist winning such an honour would indicate that something is wrong in the country.
A/ Well, for us, it’s been a very tough few years since 2016 (when Rodrigo Duterte became president). [I’ve] had ten arrest warrants in less than two years. I’ve fought cases; we’ve fought getting shut down.... It was incredible to realise that we weren’t alone, and for that I profusely thank the Nobel committee. I think one of the things it accomplished in the Philippines was that it united Filipino journalists.
Beyond that, this was an acknowledgement globally for all journalists [of] how difficult it has been to do our jobs. The last time a journalist had been given the Nobel Peace Prize was in 1936 (the 1935 Nobel Peace Prize was awarded in 1936), and he languished in a Nazi concentration camp. The Nobel committee looked at the world and I think they’re saying we’re at the precipice of something like 1936. What happened after that? World War II. And after World War II, the world came together to create a new world, to prevent the worst of human nature from ruling us.
[After the Nobel Prize announcement] what the [Duterte] government did was radio silence, I guess stunned silence. [Three days later,] we had a strange statement that kind of goes against your question. The government said, “We congratulate Maria Ressa, the first Filipino to win the Nobel Prize. It proves press freedom exists in the Philippines.”
Q/ You said in an interview that you are idealistic. Most journalists are, when they start out. What are the challenges you have had to go through to hold on to your ideals?
A/ Conquering your fear.... When I was heading ABS-CBN, I had a direct line to the president. Because you want to make sure you’re fair. In this case, the idea of negotiating with the government didn’t really appeal to me because we work too hard at Rappler.
[But] I didn’t realise that the government would go so far. When there were just cases being filed, I thought they were just trying to intimidate us. I’m too old, I’ve been doing this for a long time, and so we continued. When they arrested me, they did it to ensure I was detained overnight; they arrested me just before the court closed. That’s when I realised I have evidence of how this government will abuse its power in order to intimidate. And I came out of that night stronger. I’m lucky compared with others, I’m a high-profile journalist. The government wanted to make me an example: “If we can do this to her, what can we do to you?” And that’s exactly the kind of Mafioso mentality that the government has exuded. Imagine if you’re a journalist in the provinces walking home at night. Do you get the warnings that I’ve gotten? At least not for 19 journalists who were killed under this administration.
When I was convicted last year in a cyber libel crime—[for] a story that was published in 2012, before the law that we allegedly violated existed—[I said that] we’re bending the law to the point it’s broken. So, first weaponisation of social media, then weaponisation of the law.
Having said that, is the Philippines now Russia? I remember when I was still with CNN and I would visit Russia and [see] the kind of duality of what the facts are. I used to think, this is great, we’re not Russia. Sorry Russia, sorry Dmitry [Muratov]. It wasn’t as tough, but now it is. But I think the difference is that we have a chance to regain our democracy. We’ve held the line and now we’re at the tail end; we have elections in May next year. And I hope we’re able to have elections and Filipinos choose well. The biggest problem, of course, is that [the] integrity of elections will depend on whether we have integrity of facts. And with social media platforms, that is impossible—unless they change it.
Continue reading your story on the app
Continue reading your story in the magazine
POLITICS TO PAGE TURNER
Smriti Irani kept you hooked on to the TV screen, as an actor, and later in Parliament, as an orator. Now she has you booked, with her debut novel, a thriller
Chandrababu Naidu’s allegations of personal attacks by the YSRCP are unlikely to translate into political gains
Greenwashing solar and wind energy today could lead to heavy payback tomorrow
REPEAL AND REPAIR
Withdrawing the farm laws alone will not douse the ire against the BJP
Reviewing past progress, towards a New Journey
To understand today’s China, we must first get to know the Communist Party of China (CPC). The sixth plenary session of the 19th central committee of the CPC held recently is such a golden opportunity.
The healing touch
THE WEEK honoured hospitals that extended affordable and quality care
The Hyderpora killings are a wakeup call for the BJP
Confucius in the machine
In November, Xi Jinping moved one step closer to becoming China’s paramount leader for life. But as internal and external crises continue to threaten his hold on power, he is increasingly relying on help from China’s ideology czar—Wang Huning
By their blood
For the kin of deceased farmers, neither repeal nor recompense can make up for their loss
Karnataka - Bommi's Bitcoin Crisis
In his first big test as chief minister, Basavaraj Bommai seems to be more worried about his own partymen than the Congress
Moscow’s tallest tower houses multiple companies that experts say are using Bitcoin to launder money
Two Afghanistans, One Diplomat's Seat
The Taliban want the UN to recognize their ambassador. The old ambassador isn’t budging
Hieronymus Grabstein – Monumentum
Our brain is organized so that it analyses and memorizes visual information faster than any text. A spectator is always curious to see what is left outside the camera’s view. There is hardly a better way to tell stories of people’s lives other than via visual imagery. Handicraft– from the beginning and up to the end of each operation. It is not an automated process but significant experience, expertise, and a bit of spontaneity and freedom of artistic creativity.
MICROSOFT: RUSSIA BEHIND 58% OF DETECTED STATE-BACKED HACKS
Russia accounted for most state-sponsored hacking detected by Microsoft over the past year, with a 58% share, mostly targeting government agencies and think tanks in the United States, followed by Ukraine, Britain and European NATO members, the company said.
Daniel Bilmes’ first New York solo exhibition opens September 18 at Arcadia Contemporary with new work that shows his growth and development.
RUSSIA URGES APPLE, GOOGLE TO REMOVE NAVALNY APP FROM STORES
Russia’s state communications watchdog warned Apple and Google on Thursday that they could face fines if they fail to remove an app created by allies of jailed Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny from their stores.
Who Comes Next?
The race to succeed Germany’s Angela Merkel pits caution against boldness
RUSSIA BLAMES SPACE STATION LAB INCIDENT ON SOFTWARE FAILURE
A Russian space official blamed a software problem on a newly docked science lab for briefly knocking the International Space Station out of position.
RUSSIA FINES GOOGLE FOR VIOLATING DATA STORAGE LAW
A Moscow court ordered Google on Thursday to pay a fine of 3 million rubles (roughly $41,000) for refusing to store the personal data of Russian users on servers in Russia, a move that is part of the government’s longstanding effort to tighten its grip on online activity.
RUSSIAN LAB MODULE DOCKS WITH SPACE STATION AFTER 8-DAY TRIP
Russia’s long-delayed lab module successfully docked with the International Space Station on Thursday, eight days after it was launched from the Russian space launch facility in Baikonur, Kazakhstan.