Press freedom advocates win Nobel Peace Prize

Maria Ressa of the Philippines and Dmitry Muratov of Russia won the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize. The Norwegian Nobel Committee cited their fight for freedom of expression, stressing that it is vital in promoting peace.

“Free, independent and fact-based journalism serves to protect against abuse of power, lies and war propaganda,” said Berit Reiss-Andersen, chair of the committee.

The fact that the Nobel committee honoured two journalists — Ressa, the CEO of Filipino news site Rappler, and Muratov, the former editor of independent Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta — seems intended to underscore the necessity of freedom of expression to functioning democracies, in a year marked by increased weaponization of social media and attacks on journalists pursuing truth. 

Equally important is the larger message the committee wanted to deliver. “Without media, you cannot have a strong democracy,” Reiss-Andersen said.

According to Reporters Without Borders (RSF) 2021 World Press Freedom Index, the situation for press freedom is “difficult or very serious” in 73% of the 180 countries it evaluates, and “good or satisfactory” in only 27%.