It's turn for Journalists: Maria Ressa and Dmitry Muratov win Nobel Peace Prize! What's their contribution?

In what has become a significant recognition for their fight towards nurturing the light of democracy, journalists Maria Ressa and Dmitry Muratov have been conferred with the Nobel Peace Prize 2021. While Ressa belongs to the Philippines, Muratov is from Russia and both of them had received the honour for their courageous fight and contribution for the freedom of expression in both their countries.

The Nobel committee has said that Maria Ressa and Dmitry Muratov have been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts to safeguard freedom of expression, which is a precondition for democracy and lasting peace. In a statement, the committee has said, "Without freedom of expression and freedom of the press, it will be difficult to successfully promote fraternity between nations, disarmament, and a better world order to succeed in our time." 

The committee wrote on social media, "Free, independent, and fact-based journalism serves to protect against abuse of power, lies, and war propaganda. The Norwegian Nobel Committee is convinced that freedom of expression and freedom of information help to ensure an informed public. These rights are crucial prerequisites for democracy and protect against war and conflict. The award of the Nobel Peace Prize to Maria Ressa and Dmitry Muratov is intended to underscore the importance of protecting and defending these fundamental rights."  

The committee has called Ressa and Muratov the representatives of all journalists who stand up for this ideal. There were 329 candidates on the final list to win the Nobel Peace Prize and the Norwegian Nobel Committee has on Friday announced in Oslo that Ressa and Muratov are the winners. Maria Ressa is the co-founder and CEO of the news site Rappler and this 58-year-old Manila-born journo was honoured with the Nobel Peace Prize for using freedom of expression to "expose abuse of power, use of violence, and growing authoritarianism in her native country, the Philippines." 

After knowing that she was a winner, Ressa said she was in shock and added that her win had shown that nothing is possible without facts and a world without facts means a world without truth and trust. The committee's release further said, "As a journalist and Rappler's CEO, Ressa has shown herself to be a fearless defender of freedom of expression. Rappler has focused critical attention on the Duterte regime's controversial, murderous anti-drug campaign." It has added that Ressa and Rappler have also documented how social media is being used to spread fake news, harass opponents, and manipulate public discourse.

Ressa had co-founded Rappler in 2012 and it is a digital media company for investigative journalism. On the other hand, Russian journalist Dmitry Muratov has been campaigning for freedom of expression in Russia for several decades and had faced grim challenges. Muratov was one of the founders of the independent newspaper Novaja Gazeta in 1993 and in 1995, he had become the newspaper's editor-in-chief and he has been holding this position till now. 

Highlighting the works of a 59-year-old Russian journalist and his newspaper, the Nobel Committee said, "The newspapers's fact-based journalism and professional integrity have made it an important source of information on censurable aspects of Russian society rarely mentioned by other media. Since its start-up in 1993, Novaja Gazeta has published critical articles on subjects ranging from corruption, police violence, unlawful arrests, electoral fund, and troll factories to the use of Russian military forces both within and outside Russia." 

Commenting on winning the Nobel Peace Prize, Muratov said, "I'm laughing. I didn't expect this at all. It's madness here." He called the prize "retribution for Russian journalism which is being repressed now."  Muratov was congratulated by Kremlin spokesman, Dmitry Peskov. The latter said, "He (Muratov) persistently works in accordance with his own ideals, he is devoted to them, he is talented, he is brave." The Nobel Committee further said since the start of Novaja Gazeta, six of its journalists have been killed. "Despite the killings and threats, Novaja Gazeta editor-in-chief Dmitry Muratov has refused to abandon the newspaper's independent policy. He has consistently defended the rights of journalists", the committee added.