Maria Ressa

University of Maryland names journalism awards after Rappler CEO Maria Ressa

Ailla Dela Cruz

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University of Maryland names journalism awards after Rappler CEO Maria Ressa

Maria Ressa receives the journalism award named after her from the Philip Merrill School of Journalism, March 14, 2024

Kate DeBlasis /UMD Philip Merrill College of Journalism

The Maria Ressa Prizes for Courage in Journalism is a new annual celebration central to the University of Maryland– Philip Merrill College of Journalism's press freedom mission

MANILA, Philippines – The University of Maryland (UMD) has introduced a series of journalism awards named after Nobel Peace Prize laureate and Rappler CEO Maria Ressa, honoring courageous and groundbreaking reporting in the face of adversity.

UMD’s Philip Merrill College of Journalism hosted its first Maria Ressa Prizes on Wednesday, March 13, honoring journalists and news organizations who exhibited journalistic courage despite threats and challenges. 

Ressa was given the first Courage in Journalism award, which is given to a journalist or news organization anywhere in the world who exhibits journalistic courage in the face of serious threats from government or other powerful forces. 

Aside from courage in journalism, awards recognizing courage in investigative journalism, independent journalism, and student journalism were given too, which are all limited to journalists or news organizations in the US only. 

ProPublica received the Maria Ressa Prize for Courage in Investigative Journalism for their coverage of the ethical lapses of US Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, including luxury trips paid for by mega-donor Harlan Crow and other billionaires

The Kansas newspaper, Marion County Record received the Maria Ressa Prize for Courage in Local or Independent Journalism for their “perseverance and continued coverage in the face of the government overreach.” Their office and its publisher’s home were raided by the police in August 2023 amid allegations of identity theft. 

The Daily Northwestern, which reported the systemic hazing culture inside the Northwestern football program, received the Maria Ressa Prize for Courage in Student Journalism.

Evan Gershkovich of the Wall Street Journal, who was detained in Russia since 2023, was honored with a special citation as well. 

During her keynote speech, Ressa told the attendees and her fellow awardees, what courage means: standing up against power and money, drawing and holding the line, and doing what’s right.

She highlighted how journalists are in an existential moment now, pointing out that digital journalism could likely die due to the information crisis brought by Big Tech business models: large language models, and generative AI, among others. 

She ended her speech by encouraging fellow awardees, journalism majors and professors, especially the youth, to partake in the 10-point action plan to address the information crisis, she and Dmitry Muratov conceptualized in 2022. 

“And finally, the last one, and this is where I hope you will take a position. Where the Gen Z will actually take those old values forward in the age of digital, right? Journalism as an antidote to tyranny. This is the year. What are you going to do?,” said Ressa. –

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