With tepid understatement, the Nobel Peace Prize committee cited “increasingly adverse conditions” for newsgathering, as it singled out Maria Ressa, the fearless Filipina who runs Rappler, and Dmitry Muratov, the Russian editor who has buried seven reporters since 2000.
A growing penchant to silence journalists has finally made headlines. In separate responses, both laureates made the same point: If trusted, truthful reporters cannot hold autocrats to account, we are all toast. And we are fast running out of time to react.
Those endless rows of graves near here, dug during my lifespan, make clear what havoc a self-obsessed megalomaniac can wreak. That war killed millions. If we get climate collapse, peaceful coexistence and runaway pandemics wrong, the likely toll defies imagination.
Over a photo of his newsroom, Muratov wrote: “The whole Novaya Gazeta and everyone who worked and works there. Alive and dead. This is their prize.” He started the paper in 1993, helped by Mikhail Gorbachev. His bloodhounds still pursue the culprit who ordered the 2006 poisoning of Anna Polikovskaya, whose Chechnya reporting infuriated Vladimir Putin.
Maria Ressa’s online Rappler has dogged Rodrigo Duterte in the Philippines since he took power, fending off 10 arrest orders, brutal harassment and countless death threats. Among independent journalists worldwide, she is Joan of Arc without the political-religious baggage.
They are two among many determined to get the story straight at any cost to keep the rest of us from being blind, deaf — and dumb — as our world spins out of control.
Mort Rosenblum has reported from seven continents as Associated Press special correspondent, edited the International Herald Tribune in Paris, and written 14 books on subjects ranging from global geopolitics to chocolate. He now runs MortReport.org.
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