The International Press Institute (IPI) has congratulated its Executive Board member Maria Ressa and Dmitry Muratov for winning the Nobel Peace Prize 2021, noting that the duo have shown the importance of free press in advancing peace.
The IPI global network of editors, leading journalists and publishers dedicated to independent journalism, said it’s proud that Ressa, IPI executive board member and CEO of Rappler, and Dmitry Muratov, editor-in-chief of Novaya Gazeta, won this year’s Nobel Peace Prize “for their courageous fight for freedom of expression in the Philippines and Russia” as the Nobel Peace Prize Committee said in a statement.
Hearing the news, IPI Executive Board Chair Khadija Patel, in a statement made available to journalists, said the committee’s decision to award the prize to the two journalists was a source of inspiration.
“Maria Ressa and Dmitry Muratov are exemplars of this profession,” Patel said. “They are, as well, stories in themselves of the struggles that journalists face every day. This is a recognition of the hard work that they have done. It is recognition as well of the struggles that they face and a sign that their courage is not in vain,” the statement read.
“This is the first time the Nobel Peace Prize has gone to a journalist since 1935 – and the first time ever that two journalists have won it.
“IPI Executive Director Barbara Trionfi said the award showed the importance of high-quality, independent journalism in contributing to peace.
“This is an acknowledgement of the incredible value of the type of journalism that Maria Ressa and Dmitry Muratov do, journalism that reveals wrongdoings, stands up to autocrats and supports the rights of the people, courageously and despite constant harassment.
“In 2018, IPI awarded Ressa’s Rappler with the IPI-IMS Free Media Pioneer Award in recognition of the news site’s innovative approach to journalism and audience engagement as well as its determination to hold authorities accountable despite aggressive attacks.
“One of the Philippines’ most prominent journalists, Ressa has been the target of repeated legal harassment due to her critical reporting. She faces nearly 100 years in prison if convicted in a slew of court cases related to alleged violations of tax and foreign ownership legislation and cyber libel,” the statement said.
Muratov’s Novaya Gazeta received the IPI Free Media Pioneer Award in 2009, in recognition of Novaya Gazeta’s struggle to keep the flame of independent journalism alive in Russia in the face of great danger.
“It is highly relevant that the Nobel Committee has emphasised the role of journalism and freedom of expression for democracy and peace,” IPI Executive Board Vice-Chair Virginia Pérez Alonso said.
That was a theme stressed by Nobel Peace Prize Chair Berit Reiss-Andersen during a Q&A session following the announcement of the award.
“Well, there is an irony that in today’s world we have more press and more information than the world ever has faced,” Reiss-Andersen said.
Ole Kristian Bjellaanes, IPI Norway national committee chair, said the award would bring comfort to independent news outlets and individual journalists who often feel isolated.
“This prize is an encouragement to the work of all investigative journalists,” he said. “I am happy that the Norwegian Nobel Committee recognises the importance of free speech and a free press as a contribution to a freer and more peaceful world.”