As this piece from AP makes very clear, a Nobel peace prize may have brought publicity, but it hasn’t lessened the chilling and almost impossible circumstance both Muratov and Ressa have been forced to endure over the past 12 months.
Muratov saw the situation for independent media in Russia turn from bad to worse following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on 24 February. The paper removed much of the war reporting from its website a week later in response to a new Russian law, which threatened jail terms of up to 15 years for publishing information triggering the Russian military or deemed to be “fake.”
Many Russian journalists left the country. But Novaya Gazeta held out, printing three issues a week and reaching what Muratov said were 27 million readers in March.
Finally, on 28 March 28 – after two warnings from Russia’s media regulator – the paper announced it was suspending publication for the duration of the war. A team of its journalists, however, started a new project from abroad, calling it Novaya Gazeta Europe.
in the PhilippinesRessa and Rappler’s legal problems haven’t eased since the former president Rodrigo Duterte left office on 30 June.
Ressa’s online news outfit was among the most critical of Duterte’s brutal crackdown on illegal drugs, which left thousands of mostly petty drug suspects dead and sparked an International Criminal Court investigation into possible crimes against humanity.
Throughout much of Duterte’s rule, Ressa and Rappler, which she co-founded in 2012, fought a slew of lawsuits that threatened to shut down the increasingly popular news website and lock her up in jail.
Just two days before Duterte stepped down, the government’s corporate regulator upheld a decision revoking Rappler’s operating license on the ground that the news site had allowed a foreign investor to wield control in violation of a constitutional prohibition on foreign control of local media – a finding that Rappler had disputed.
Rappler moved to fight the closure order and told his staff: “It is business as usual for us. We will adapt, adjust, survive and thrive.”
It was supported by prominent democracy voices. “Rappler and Maria Ressa tell the truth,” Hillary Clinton tweeted. “Shutting the site down would be a serious disservice to the country and its people.”
About a week later in July, in the first days in power of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr, Manila’s Court of Appeals upheld an online libel conviction of Ressa and a former Rappler journalist in a separate lawsuit and imposed a longer prison sentence of up to six years , eight months and 20 days for both. Their lawyers appealed to keep them out of prison and the news website running.
The ruling prompted the Norwegian Nobel Committee to react, with committee chair Berit Reiss-Andersen saying it “underlines the importance of a free, independent and fact-based journalism, which serves to protect against abuse of power, lies and war propaganda”.
Last year’s winners were two campaigning journalists from the Philippines and Russia.
Maria Ressa, the chief executive and cofounder of Rappler, and Dmitry Muratov, the editor-in-chief of Novaya Gazeta, were named as 2021’s laureates by Berit Reiss-Andersen, the chair of the Norwegian Nobel committee.
“Free, independent and fact-based journalism serves to protect against abuse of power, lies and war propaganda,” Reiss-Andersen said, praising the two journalists’ “courageous fight for freedom of expression, a precondition for democracy and lasting peace”.
Good morning and welcome to the Guardian’s Nobel peace prize 2022 liveblog. I’m Sam Jones. The announcement of this year’s winner will be made in Oslo at 10am BST (11am CEST).
As nominees are never named by the Nobel committee, the likely winner is anyone’s guess. According to the Nobel statutes, the full list of eligible nominees for year’s prizes is not disclosed for another 50 years.
In 2022, a year overshadowed by the climate emergency, economic turmoil – and, most notably, Russia invasion of Ukraine – who will win the ultimate peace plaudit? Stay with us to find out…
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism