#Opinion

What Maria Ressa’s Noble Prize Win Means For Young Women In Journalism

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Maria Ressa Nobel Prize Win: Over the last 30 years as a journalist, Maria Ressa has not only witnessed wars, but also waged new ones against the Philippine authorities. From leading the grand studios of the biggest news organisations in the Philippines to her own online news website Rappler, Ressa’s work has always spoken volumes about her conviction for truth. So it seems befitting that she was named as the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize this year, alongside Russian scribe Dmitry Muratov, for her efforts to “safeguard freedom of expression, which is a precondition for democracy and lasting peace.”

In an interview with AFP, Ressa dedicated the award to all journalists around the world. She said, “We do need help on so many fronts — it is so much more difficult and dangerous to be a journalist today.”

Even without the award, Ressa’s contribution to the field and her resistance towards Rodrigo Deuterte led Philippine government hadn’t gone unnoticed around the world. The fact that she was given the Nobel Peace Prize only restores the faith of people in the power of journalism and how the profession really has the potential to bring about a positive change.

Maria Ressa’s win gives hope to young journalists around the world that their work on the ground matters. The struggles they go through to get a factual story out matters. In the words of Ressa, the Nobel Peace Prize has hit her and all the journalists around the world like a shot of adrenaline. Since 2016, Ressa has been at war with the Philippines ‘ right-wing regime. President Rodrigo Duterte has made every effort to put an end to Rappler- an investigative website co-founded by Ressa. Series of criminal charges, investigations, attacks, harassment and much more has been endured by Ressa but she persevered. Duterte even called Rappler a ‘fake news outlet’.

As a woman, Ressa’s journey has been all the more difficult with constant abusive messages on social media and threats from strangers. The veteran journalist proves that these attacks cannot stop one from fulfilling the demand of the job and simply putting out the truth in the open. A woman like Ressa serves as an example to other women who are often discouraged by people who keep counting the risks of the professions.  Ressa also hoped in the interview that the award “allows journalists to do our jobs well without fear.”

Her Nobel prize win also reminds one of the powerful speech given by Ressa, while addressing the graduating class of 2019 at Columbia Journalism School. She was awarded the prestigious Columbia Journalism Award that year and her name was taken with the stalwarts like Joan Didion, David Halberstam and Walter Cronkite.

In her speech, she warned young journalists about the battle against propaganda and technology. As Maria Ressa talked about the courage a journalist must possess, she also asked the graduates to stay away from wallowing in emotions. The clarity must be there in order to achieve one’s mission and fulfill the purpose of their work.

Ressa’s journey will encourage young women aspiring to make a career in journalism to keep pushing forward, no matter how vast the challenges posed against them. After all, journalism isn’t just about truth and courage, it is also about hope and resilience.

Views expressed by the author are their own. 

Checkout her speech here: