November 27, 2021

“We have entered the era of digital authoritarianism”

Maria Ressa, co-winner of the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize, in Taguig City (Philippines), October 9, 2021.

Filipino journalist Maria Ressa, former CNN correspondent in Southeast Asia, launched independent news site Rappler, on the front line to investigate the violent drift of President Rodrigo Duterte, whose war on drugs has claimed thousands of lives. She is constantly the target of power, especially on social networks, in a country where the murders of journalists are frequent.

The Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to him on October 8, as well as to the editor-in-chief of the independent Russian newspaper Novaïa Gazeta, Dmitry Muratov. In an interview with World, she returns to the threats weighing against Filipino political activists and the danger that social networks represent for democracies.

Read also Article reserved for our subscribers Journalists Maria Ressa and Dmitri Muratov, a double Nobel Peace Prize winner for the freedom to inform

How did you find out that you had won the Nobel Peace Prize?

I was hooked up to an online conference with two other news sites, one Malaysian, the other Indonesian, we were discussing how independent media can survive in our countries. I then see my phone vibrate next to the computer. I see the call is coming from Norway, I turn off the computer’s microphone and answer the phone; Olva Njolstad, who heads the committee, tells me that I have the Nobel Peace Prize with another person, whose name he could not tell me because he had not yet been informed.

It was completely crazy, I was overwhelmed. And then he added, “You don’t have to talk about it before the formal announcement. It was necessary to wait with such secrecy, what torture! I swallowed my emotions, reactivated my microphone, and resumed the conference discussion until the announcement. It was energizing and crazy. A real shock, for me, for Rappler.

Why do you think the Nobel committee chose you and Dmitry Muratov?

It is a prize for journalists in the countries where they are attacked. And at the same time, the last time a reporter got this award, it got worse for him. I don’t know if the committee has thought about that. It was in 1936, Carl von Ossietzky, who had denounced German rearmament, had been deported to a concentration camp [et il est mort de la tuberculose en 1938 en prison]. That was eighty-five years ago.

For me, the most rewarding aspect of this award is that it is aimed at all journalists who live under pressure, whether in the Philippines or elsewhere. Yesterday, I started my day with a discussion with Venezuelan journalists, they are even lower than us in the press freedom rankings, and they felt touched that I had this award. It also made sense to the journalists I spoke to in India. But suddenly, it’s been days that I speak in the media: do you have the impression while listening to me to hear an old broken record? (To laugh)

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