Nobel laureate: Media should fight for facts, not each other

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — Media worldwide should join forces in “fighting for facts” amid threats to press freedoms instead of competing with each other, Maria Ressa, joint winner of the 2021 Nobel Peace prize, said Thursday on the eve of the award ceremony in Norway’s capital.

Speaking at an Oslo press conference with fellow laureate Dmitry Muratov of Russia, Ressa, a Filipina, said that “the era of competition for news is dead.”

“I think this is a time when we’re on the same side fighting for facts and we’re going to need to find new ways of collaboration, not just each in our countries, but also globally,” she said.

Since the coveted prize was awarded to them in October, freedom of the press has not improved in either the Philippines or Russia, Ressa and Muratov said.

“So, no, so far press freedom is under threat. It takes a lot to be able to be here today to respond to your questions,” said Ressa. She added that she had “to get four courts to give approval to allow me to travel” because of criminal cases she faces in her country.

Ressa is the first person from the Philippines to win the Nobel Peace prize. Last year, she was convicted of libel and sentenced to jail in a decision seen as a major blow to press global freedom. She currently is out on bail but faces seven active legal cases.

Speaking through an interpreter, Muratov said that “governments invest in lies and not in journalism,” adding that he was “fully aware that this prize is for the whole journalist community.”

The Norwegian Nobel Committee selected the two for their separate fight for freedom of expression in countries where reporters have faced persistent attacks, harassment and even murder.

Asked what the prize meant to her, Ressa compared it with a light that “is a shield in so many ways.”

“It’s a spotlight to show how much more difficult it is to do our jobs,” she said. “The only weapon, the only defense journalists can have in an environment like this is to actually shine the light and to keep doing our jobs.”

The prize — 10 million kronor ($1.1 million), medals and diplomas — will be formally awarded in Oslo Friday.

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