Resa is the CEO of Rapper, a news outlet criticizing the regime of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, while Muratov heads the independent Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta. Both have faced legal and physical threats during their careers, as their respective governments crack down on journalists’ rights.
“Free, independent and fact-based journalism serves to protect against abuse of power, lies and propaganda of war,” Norwegian Nobel Committee chairman Berit Rees-Andersen said in Oslo on Friday while announcing the prize.
He added that the pair are “representative of all journalists who stand up for this ideal in a world in which democracy and freedom of the press face increasingly adversity.” Rees-Anderson said the committee’s choice was intended to “underscore the importance of protecting and defending these fundamental rights”.
Resa, a former Granthshala bureau chief and Time’s Person of the Year, has been embroiled in a legal battle in recent years and says she has been targeted by her news site’s critical reports on Duterte.
The committee said that six employees of the independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta have been killed since Muratov co-founded the outlet in 1993. He has worked as the editor-in-chief of the newspaper since 1995.
“The newspaper’s fact-based journalism and professional integrity have made it an important source of information on blasphemous aspects of Russian society that are rarely mentioned by other media,” the committee said.
It added that Muratov “relentlessly defends the right of journalists to write about whatever they want, as long as they adhere to the professional and ethical standards of journalism.”
Press freedom across the world
The Norwegian Nobel Committee’s decision to recognize two journalists comes after countries around the world withdrew the rights of journalists.
Media watchdog Reporters Without Borders, itself a contender for the award, said in its most recent Press Freedom Index that journalism is “completely blocked or severely disrupted in 73 countries and constrained in 59 others.”
“Freedom of expression and freedom of information help ensure an informed public,” Rees-Anderson said during Friday’s ceremony. “These rights are important prerequisites for democracy and protect against war and conflict.”
The cracks on journalistic freedom are closely felt in both the rapper and Novaya Gazeta. Responding to his victory, Muratov said that the award is a testament to the newspaper’s dedication to freedom of expression and to his colleagues who died for it, Russian state media TASS reported.
“I worked, I was busy. They called me to the Nobel committee, but I didn’t pick up the phone. I didn’t even have time to read the full text,” he told TASS. “I’ll tell you this: it’s not my merit. It’s the Novaya Gazeta. These are the ones who died defending the people’s right to freedom of speech.”
Anna Politkovskaya, once a prominent voice in Russia reporting on the Chechnya war for the Novaya Gazeta, was killed 15 years ago on Thursday.
“I’m in shock,” Ressa said during the rapper’s live broadcast on Friday, according to Reuters. On Thursday, the day before winning the award, Resa spoke to Granthshala about next year’s Philippine elections. “I’ve covered this country since 1986, I’ve never been the news, but the only reason I’ve been news is because I refused to be stamped, I refused to do my job the way I should should,” she said.
Ressa said that when she was at Granthshala, she “had enough network to be able to fight” against threats to freedom of expression. “I am not fighting against the Duterte administration, I am fighting for my rights. I am still an idealist,” she said.
Joel Simon, executive director of the Committee to Protect Journalists, congratulated the pair on their victory, calling Resa and Muratov “two fearless journalists and icons of the struggle for press freedom”.
Rees-Anderson was asked to comment on whether Ahmed lived up to the committee’s expectations during Friday’s press conference, but avoided question.
Credit : www.cnn.com