Maria Ressa accepts Tully Award, says sense of purpose 'sharper'
MANILA, Philippines – Rappler CEO Maria Ressa accepted the 2018 Tully Award for Free Speech on Wednesday, April 24, as she said the sense of purpose in her newsroom "has never been sharper" in the face of threats.
Ressa received the award in a ceremony at the SI Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University (SU) in New York City. The event gathered around 100 people, said the Daily Orange, the independent student news organization of SU.
"The sense of purpose inside our newsroom has never been sharper," said Ressa, as quoted by the Daily Orange.
"The only thing I hope I can do is keep walking until I come out the other side, and hopefully the world is right-side up," she also said.
Media organization WAER, which is licensed to SU, said Ressa emphasized the value of facts to establish trust.
"You say a lie a million times, people think it's true. You don't have to fight it anymore. You astroturf on social media, you fertilize the landscape so that it can take action that would have been impossible to think about before," Ressa said, as quoted by WAER.
She added: "The problem with our world today is that a lot of bad things have been allowed to happen with impunity. These exponential attacks on social media have psychological effect. Women are attacked more than men. It’s a new weapon used against journalists."
The annual award from the Tully Center for Free Speech at the Newhouse School is given "to a journalist who has shown courage in facing a free speech threat," according to the Tully Center website.
Ressa was chosen by a group of SU faculty and students from among a pool of nominees identified by an international panel of journalists and lawyers.
A report on her award on the SU website quoted Roy Gutterman, associate professor and director of the Tully Center, who said: "Maria represents an important voice and delivers important news at a critical time in the Philippines. She does this under constant threat to her freedom and safety."
Ressa and Rappler have been under threat since President Rodrigo Duterte assumed power in 2016. The Philippine leader has repeatedly attacked Rappler in public speeches, following its investigative reports on his bloody campaign against illegal drugs. (READ: Rappler on latest case: Pattern of harassment has not stopped)
Ressa was arrested on February 13 on a cyber libel charge. On March 29, she was arrested for alleged violation of the anti-dummy law. She posted bail in both cases. (LIST: Cases vs Maria Ressa, Rappler directors, staff since 2018)
At the same time, Ressa and Rappler have also won awards for their fight for press freedom. Ressa was recently named by Time Magazine as one of the world's 100 most influential people of 2019, months after she was featured as Time's Person of the Year for 2018. – Rappler.com