Nobel Peace Prize laureate Maria Ressa: Being a journalist has become 'more dangerous'

Maria Ressa.
Maria Ressa. © AFP

FRANCE 24 spoke to this year's joint Nobel Peace Prize laureate Maria Ressa, co-founder of the digital media company Rappler and an outspoken critic of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte. Asked whether journalism is becoming more dangerous around the world, she told FRANCE 24: "It is more dangerous, it requires more sacrifices, just to do what journalists have always done." 


Ressa, 58, is currently on bail pending an appeal against a conviction last year in a cyber libel case, for which she faces up to six years in prison.

Speaking to FRANCE 24 live from Manila, she reacted to her win for what the Nobel committee called her "courageous fight for freedom of expression" in the Philippines. "It is more dangerous, it requires more sacrifices, just to do what journalists have always done," she explained.

Ressa also expressed concern about misinformation in the run-up to next year's presidential elections in the Philippines. "This is going to be the battle for facts... American social media platforms, these American companies are going to play a crucial role if they don't put guard rails on the algorithmic spread of lies."

More broadly, she sounded the alarm about the role of social media companies: "Facebook, which is the world's largest distributor of news, is governed by algorithms that actually spread lies, laced with anger and hate, faster and further than facts... Our news is being distributed on a platform that is biased against facts, and it is biased against journalists. If you don't have facts, you can't have truth. Without truth, you can't have trust." 

Asked whether online conversation has been changed fundamentally by populist leaders such as Donald Trump and Rodrigo Duterte, she told FRANCE 24: "The world has fundamentally changed... While Donald Trump may be temporarily out of Facebook, he has changed the tenor of public discourse in the United States. President Duterte has changed the tenor of discourse: the us-against-them type of divisive leadership which plays so well on social media, I don't think this problem is over."

Finally, asked about the under-representation of women among Nobel laureates, Ressa said she disagreed with the idea of quotas, but called for more to be done to empower women in journalism.

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