MANILA, Philippines – The UK-based journalism platform The Investigative Journal and Philippine news website Rappler announced a partnership on Monday, July 8, to jointly work on investigations and share content.
The collaboration will see the coming together of two publishers with a shared belief in holding power to account through original, fact based, and investigative storytelling.
Rappler’s CEO and Time Magazine Person of the Year Maria Ressa is an award-winning journalist with more than three decades’ experience working as Manila and Jakarta Bureau Chief for CNN, and as News head of the country’s largest TV network, before founding the Philippine news website in 2012.
After breaking a series of damning exposés, which revealed the rising number of extrajudicial killings under Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs, and showing how his government and proxies weaponized social media, Ressa and Rappler have been subjected to a campaign of political harassment and intimidation.
This year Ressa was arrested on a cyber libel charge dating back to a story published in 2012 before the country’s cybercrime law took effect. She was detained overnight then arrested again less than a month later. In a 3-month period, she posted bail 8 times for politically motivated charges ranging from securities fraud to tax evasion to cyber libel.
Undeterred by the political and criminal harassment she faces, Ressa has now joined forces with Mohamed Fahmy, a former CNN award-winning correspondent who covered the Arab Spring with the network for three years in Cairo before joining Al Jazeera English Egypt as bureau chief.
Fahmy was himself arrested and falsely imprisoned in Egypt during the Arab Spring in October 2013 before being freed after a pardon from the Egyptian president led by human rights lawyer Amal Clooney in October 2015. He spent close to two years incarcerated, several months of which were in solitary confinement in the notorious maximum security Scorpion prisons in Cairo, alongside members of Al Qaeda, ISIS, and the Muslim Brotherhood, which have been tagged as terrorists in many countries.
Since winning his freedom in October 2015 Fahmy has campaigned for the rights of journalists all over the world to go about their work free from the threat of violence, intimidation, and political prosecution.
Since launching The Investigative Journal in February 2018, the website has published investigations into Turkey’s intelligence agency illegally dispatching arms to Syrian Jihadists, the hidden world of illegal migration routes in Libya, and a groundbreaking report on air pollution, among others.
At the official launch of The Investigative Journal in Southwark Cathedral in London on July 9, Fahmy and Ressa will share a platform to call on world leaders to do more to protect the freedom of journalists to report the truth.
Their cooperation will see collaboration on content and events, cross-border stories, sharing of resources and access, and championing of press freedom issues.
Speaking ahead of the event, Mohamed Fahmy, CEO of The Investigative Journal said: "In 2014, I sat in my cell baffled at the news that 200 journalists were jailed worldwide. Today, 2018 has been the worst year on record with more than 340 journalists behind bars, 80 killed and 60 taken hostage – crimes we must all stand against if we have any regard for humanity. My response to these atrocities is embodied in TIJ's motto: Truth in Journalism. Working with top investigative journalists to produce in-depth investigations about topics often marginalized by mainstream media is my new mission. Our newly-formed partnership with Ms. Ressa and the Rappler team means that the public is about to see some exclusive and groundbreaking reporting which is much needed in this Trumptified era of falsification of news, manipulation of the truth, and unprecedented attacks on journalists in a generation from world leaders who are supposed to be role models."
Maria Ressa, CEO of Rappler, said that “investigative journalism is more important today than at any other time, given the abuses of power in nations that used to be transparent.” The partnership with The Investigative Journal will “extend our reach and enrich our perspective in cross-border stories that our respective platforms will carry. This will allow us to make better sense of issues and events that matter at a time when technology is serving as enabler of both truth-telling and disinformation. The partnership will cement ties among journalists who aspire to preserve their freedom to report the truth, no matter what.” – Rappler.com