CPJ is honored to present its 2018 Gwen Ifill Press Freedom Award to Rappler editor Maria Ressa.
Maria Ressa is the founder, CEO, and executive editor of Rappler, a Philippine news website created in 2012 that is renowned for its critical coverage of President Rodrigo Duterte's controversial policies and actions.
Rappler has been targeted by the Philippine government recently. In November, authorities said they had grounds to indict Ressa and Rappler for tax evasion and failure to file returns, a move CPJ condemned. In January, the Securities and Exchange Commission ordered Rappler's registration to be revoked. The next month, the government banned the website, which Duterte characterized as "fake news," from covering official presidential palace events. But Rappler continues to operate, with Ressa challenging what she sees as a politicized decision by the commission that is aimed at stifling critical coverage.
Ressa has been a journalist in Asia for more than 30 years, most of them as CNN's bureau chief in Manila, then Jakarta. During that time, she served as the network's lead investigative reporter focusing on terrorism in Southeast Asia. In 2005, she took the helm of ABS-CBN News and Current Affairs, and for six years managed more than 1,000 journalists for the largest multi-platform news operation in the Philippines. Her work aimed to redefine journalism by combining traditional broadcast, new media, and mobile phone technology for social change. In 1987, Ressa helped found the independent production company Probe.
She has taught courses in politics and media for her alma mater, Princeton University, as well as in broadcasting at the University of the Philippines. Her 2012 book, "From Bin Laden to Facebook," is part of her work as author-in-residence and senior fellow at the International Centre for Political Violence & Terrorism Research in Singapore. In 2003, she wrote "Seeds of Terror: An Eyewitness Account of Al-Qaeda's Newest Center of Operations in Southeast Asia," which documented the growth of Jemaah Islamiyah and its links to Al-Qaeda.
Ressa has earned multiple awards, including most recently the 2018 Golden Pen of Freedom Award from WAN-IFRA, the 2018 Knight International Journalism Award, the 2018 Free Media Pioneer Award from the International Press Institute, and the National Democratic Institute's Democracy Award in 2017.