Investigative journalist and media executive Maria Ressa of the Philippines has been named as the 2021 laureate of the UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize, following the recommendation of an international jury of media professionals. The Award Ceremony will take place on 2 May in Windhoek, Namibia, on the occasion of the World Press Freedom Day Global Conference, and be streamed online.
Over a career spanning more than thirty years, Ressa has worked as CNN’s lead investigative reporter for Asia and the head of ABS-CBN News and Current Affairs. She has also been involved in many international initiatives to promote press freedom. In recent years, she has been the target of online attacks and judicial processes relating to her investigative reporting and status as manager of online outlet Rappler. She has been arrested for alleged crimes related to the exercise of her profession, and has been subject to a sustained campaign of gendered online abuse, threats, and harassment, which at one point, resulted in her receiving an average of over 90 hateful messages an hour on Facebook.
Maria Ressa’s unerring fight for freedom of expression is an example for many journalists around the world. Her case is emblematic of global trends that represent a real threat to press freedom, and therefore to democracy.
Marilu Mastrogiovanni, Chair of the Prize’s international jury, investigative journalist from Italy
The $25,000 Prize recognizes outstanding contributions to the defence or promotion of press freedom especially in the face of danger. It is named after Guillermo Cano Isaza, the Colombian journalist who was assassinated in front of the offices of his newspaper El Espectador in Bogotá, Colombia, on 17 December 1986. It is funded by the Guillermo Cano Isaza Foundation (Colombia), the Helsingin Sanomat Foundation (Finland) and the Namibia Media Trust.
About the 2021 World Press Freedom Day Global Conference in Windhoek
The 2021 World Press Freedom Day Global Conference will take place on 2 and 3 May and focus on the theme of Information as a Public Good. More than 40 online and in situ sessions are planned, looking at topics such as the transparency of online platforms and the importance of media and information literacy. The conference will also tackle ways to promote and support independent media struggling to survive a crisis worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic, at a time when national and local media everywhere face financial instability and other pressures threatening their survival and their journalists’ jobs.