Two journalists from Russia and the Philippines – Dmitry Muratov and Maria Ressa – were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday for their work in countries where the press often comes under attack from hostile authoritarian governments.
The Norwegian Nobel Committee said the pair have made tireless efforts to maintain press and speech freedoms while under constant threat and harassment.
Ressa, 58, is the co-founder of the Philippines digital media outlet Rappler and Muratov is the longtime editor of and co-founder of the independent Novaja Gazeta newspaper in Russia.
The two were recognized with the Nobel Prize on Friday for their investigative reporting amid ferocious pushback from their governments.
“Ms. Ressa and Mr. Muratov are receiving the Peace Prize for their courageous fight for freedom of expression in the Philippines and Russia,” the committee said in a statement.
“At the same time, they are representatives of all journalists who stand up for this ideal in a world in which democracy and freedom of the press face increasingly adverse conditions.”
Rappler and Ressa, the first woman to win a Nobel Prize this year, are forceful critics of the Philippines government under President Rodrito Duterte and his violent war on drugs in the island nation. The committee called Ressa a “fearless defender of freedom of expression.”
“Ressa and Rappler have also documented how social media is being used to spread fake news, harass opponents and manipulate public discourse,” the committee said.
Ressa is also the first Filipino to win a Nobel Prize.
Novaja Gazeta has functioned as one of Russia’s most independent newspapers since 1993, and Muratov has been editor-in-chief since 1994. The paper has covered corruption, police violence, unlawful arrests and electoral fraud in Russia and exposed “troll factories” used by Russian military forces both inside and outside of Russia.
“Novaja Gazeta’s opponents have responded with harassment, threats, violence and murder,” the committee said. “Since the newspaper’s start, six of its journalists have been killed, including Anna Politkovskaja who wrote revealing articles on the war in Chechnya.
“Despite the killings and threats, editor-in-chief Muratov has refused to abandon the newspaper’s independent policy,” it added.