OSLO: Maria Ressa of the Philippines and Dmitry Muratov of Russia, two champions of the free press, received this year’s Nobel Peace Prize on Friday honouring a profession under attack.
Ressa, co-founder of the news website Rappler, and Muratov, chief editor of the independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta, won the prize in October for “their efforts to safeguard freedom of expression.”
“You have to take care of journalists,” Muratov told a crowd of children shortly before Friday’s prize ceremony got underway at Oslo’s City Hall, scaled back due to the pandemic. “No article is worth their life,” he said.
The award consists of a diploma, a gold medal and a cheque for 10 million Swedish kronor ($1.10 million) to be shared by the two laureates.“A healthy society and democracy is dependent on trustworthy information,” the head of the Norwegian Nobel Committee Berit Reiss-Andersen said, taking a swipe at propaganda, disinformation and fake news.
Free and independent journalism is under threat around the world.Ressa said the prestigious award had not improved the situation in the Philippines, which is currently ranked 138th in freedom of the press by Reporters Without Borders. “This Nobel light is blinding,” the 58-year-old journalist told, saying she was still stunned to have won the prize, mimicking Edvard Munch’s famed painting “The Scream”.
“It is for all journalists around the world. We’ve seen the decline in terms of the quality of journalism, the safety of journalists and then the quality of democracies over the last decade,” she told AFP.
Muratov, 60, heads one of the rare independent newspapers in a Russian media landscape largely under state control.Known for its investigations into corruption and human rights abuses in Chechnya, Novaya Gazeta has seen six of its journalists killed since the 1990s, including famed investigative reporter Anna Politkovskaya murdered in 2006.
“During the 30 years lifetime that our newspaper has had, we have done so much positive and good for the country that announcing us as foreign agents would be deteriorating for the country´s power” and “a stupid thing to do,” Muratov told in an interview.The “foreign agent” label is meant to apply to people or groups that receive funding from abroad and are involved in any kind of “political activity”.