231 Nobel Prize winner Maria Ressa on how social media is pushing journalism—and democracy—to the brink
Podcast |
PolicyCast
Publisher |
Harvard University
Media Type |
audio
Categories Via RSS |
Education
Publication Date |
Dec 10, 2021
Episode Duration |
00:42:13

The Nobel Committee has awarded its 2021 Peace Prize to Maria Ressa for being a fearless defender of independent journalism and freedom of expression in the Philippines, and particularly for her work exposing the human rights abuses of authoritarian President Rodrigo Duterte. But the prize is also a de facto acknowledgement that Ressa has become something of a one-woman personification of the struggles, perils, and promise of journalism in the age of social media. 

A longtime investigative reporter and bureau chief for CNN, she began thinking about how social networks could be used for both good and evil while covering terrorism and seeing how it was used to drive both radicalism and build movements for positive change. She originally founded Rappler, her Manila-based online news organization, as a Facebook page, but now she says that one-time Harvard student Mark Zuckerberg’s dominance as a worldwide distributor of news has become a boon to repressive regimes and a threat to democracy worldwide. 

Rappler’s mission statement is to speak truth to power and build communities of action for a better world—but for Ressa, speaking truth to power has come at a high personal cost. She has been subjected to harassment, criminal and civil legal action, and even arrest, even as she has refused to back off even an inch. When we spoke for this interview, Ressa was just finishing a visiting fellowship at the Kennedy School, where she was affiliated with both the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics, and Public Policy and the Center for Public Leadership. 

About our Guest:

Maria Ressa has been a journalist in Asia for 35 years and co-founded Rappler, the top digital only news site that is leading the fight for press freedom in the Philippines. For her courage and work on disinformation, Ressa was named Time Magazine’s 2018 Person of the Year, was among its 100 Most Influential People of 2019, and has also been named one of Time’s Most Influential Women of the Century. She was also part of BBC’s 100 most inspiring and influential women of 2019 and Prospect magazine’s world’s top 50 thinkers. In 2020, she received the Journalist of the Year award, the John Aubuchon Press Freedom Award, the Most Resilient Journalist Award, the Tucholsky Prize, the Truth to Power Award, and the Four Freedoms Award.

Before founding Rappler, Maria focused on investigating terrorism in Southeast Asia. She opened and ran CNN’s Manila Bureau for nearly a decade before opening the network’s Jakarta Bureau, which she ran from 1995 to 2005. She wrote Seeds of Terror: An Eyewitness Account of al-Qaeda’s Newest Center of Operations in Southeast Asia and From Bin Laden to Facebook: 10 Days of Abduction, 10 Years of Terrorism.

PolicyCast is a production of Harvard Kennedy School and is hosted by Staff Writer and Producer Ralph Ranalli

PolicyCast is edited by Ralph Ranalli and co-produced by Susan Hughes. Natalie Montaner is our webmaster and social media strategist. Our designers are Lydia Rosenberg and Delane Meadows.

For more information please visit our web page or contact us at PolicyCast@hks.harvard.edu.

The Nobel Committee has awarded its 2021 Peace Prize to Maria Ressa for being a fearless defender of independent journalism and freedom of expression in the Philippines, and particularly for her work exposing the human rights abuses of authoritarian President Rodrigo Duterte. But the prize is also a de facto acknowledgement that Ressa has become something of a one-woman personification of the struggles, perils, and promise of journalism in the age of social media. A longtime investigative reporter and bureau chief for CNN, she began thinking about how social networks could be used for both good and evil while covering terrorism and seeing how it was used to drive both radicalism and build movements for positive change. She originally founded Rappler, her Manila-based online news organization, as a Facebook page, but now she says that one-time Harvard student Mark Zuckerberg’s dominance as a worldwide distributor of news has become a boon to repressive regimes and a threat to democracy worldwide. Rappler’s mission statement is to speak truth to power and build communities of action for a better world—but for Ressa, speaking truth to power has come at a high personal cost. She has been subjected to harassment, criminal and civil legal action, and even arrest, even as she has refused to back off even an inch. When we spoke for this interview, Ressa was just finishing a visiting fellowship at the Kennedy School, where she was affiliated with both the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics, and Public Policy and the Center for Public Leadership.

The Nobel Committee has awarded its 2021 Peace Prize to Maria Ressa for being a fearless defender of independent journalism and freedom of expression in the Philippines, and particularly for her work exposing the human rights abuses of authoritarian President Rodrigo Duterte. But the prize is also a de facto acknowledgement that Ressa has become something of a one-woman personification of the struggles, perils, and promise of journalism in the age of social media. 

A longtime investigative reporter and bureau chief for CNN, she began thinking about how social networks could be used for both good and evil while covering terrorism and seeing how it was used to drive both radicalism and build movements for positive change. She originally founded Rappler, her Manila-based online news organization, as a Facebook page, but now she says that one-time Harvard student Mark Zuckerberg’s dominance as a worldwide distributor of news has become a boon to repressive regimes and a threat to democracy worldwide. 

Rappler’s mission statement is to speak truth to power and build communities of action for a better world—but for Ressa, speaking truth to power has come at a high personal cost. She has been subjected to harassment, criminal and civil legal action, and even arrest, even as she has refused to back off even an inch. When we spoke for this interview, Ressa was just finishing a visiting fellowship at the Kennedy School, where she was affiliated with both the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics, and Public Policy and the Center for Public Leadership. 

About our Guest:

Maria Ressa has been a journalist in Asia for 35 years and co-founded Rappler, the top digital only news site that is leading the fight for press freedom in the Philippines. For her courage and work on disinformation, Ressa was named Time Magazine’s 2018 Person of the Year, was among its 100 Most Influential People of 2019, and has also been named one of Time’s Most Influential Women of the Century. She was also part of BBC’s 100 most inspiring and influential women of 2019 and Prospect magazine’s world’s top 50 thinkers. In 2020, she received the Journalist of the Year award, the John Aubuchon Press Freedom Award, the Most Resilient Journalist Award, the Tucholsky Prize, the Truth to Power Award, and the Four Freedoms Award.

Before founding Rappler, Maria focused on investigating terrorism in Southeast Asia. She opened and ran CNN’s Manila Bureau for nearly a decade before opening the network’s Jakarta Bureau, which she ran from 1995 to 2005. She wrote Seeds of Terror: An Eyewitness Account of al-Qaeda’s Newest Center of Operations in Southeast Asia and From Bin Laden to Facebook: 10 Days of Abduction, 10 Years of Terrorism.

PolicyCast is a production of Harvard Kennedy School and is hosted by Staff Writer and Producer Ralph Ranalli

PolicyCast is edited by Ralph Ranalli and co-produced by Susan Hughes. Natalie Montaner is our webmaster and social media strategist. Our designers are Lydia Rosenberg and Delane Meadows.

For more information please visit our web page or contact us at PolicyCast@hks.harvard.edu.

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