A journalist in Asia for more than 35 years, Maria Ressa co-founded Rappler, the top digital only news site that is leading the fight for press freedom in the Philippines. As Rappler’s CEO and president, Maria has endured constant political harassment and arrests by the Duterte government, forced to post bail ten times to stay free. Rappler’s battle for truth and democracy is the subject of the 2020 Sundance Film Festival documentary, A Thousand Cuts.
In October 2021, Maria was one of two journalists awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of her “efforts to safeguard freedom of expression, which is a precondition for democracy and lasting peace.”
For her courage and work on disinformation and ‘fake news,’ Maria was named one of Time Magazine’s 2018 Person of the Year, was among its 100 Most Influential People of 2019, and has also been named one of Time’s Most Influential Women of the Century. She was also part of the BBC’s 100 most inspiring and influential women of 2019 and Prospect magazine’s world’s top 50 thinkers. In 2020, she received the Journalist of the Year award, the John Aubuchon Press Freedom Award, the Most Resilient Journalist Award, the Tucholsky Prize, the Truth to Power Award, and the Four Freedoms Award. In 2021, UNESCO awarded her the Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize.
Among many awards for her principled stance, she received the prestigious Golden Pen of Freedom Award from the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers, the Knight International Journalism Award from the International Center for Journalists, the Gwen Ifill Press Freedom Award from the Committee to Protect Journalists, the Shorenstein Journalism Award from Stanford University, the Columbia Journalism Award, the Free Media Pioneer Award from the International Press Institute, and the Sergei Magnitsky Award for Investigative Journalism.
Maria was born in the Philippines but grew up in the United States after her family migrated to Toms River, New Jersey in 1973. She returned to Manila on a Fulbright fellowship in 1986 and worked for the newly liberated government station, People’s Television 4, as director of newscasts then as head of its special projects team. In 1987, she began reporting for CNN and joined ABS-CBN as the director and producer of Probe, the first and longest running investigative news magazine in the Philippines, before helping set it up as a separate company, Probe Productions, Inc., in 1988.
Before co-founding Rappler, Maria focused on investigating terrorism in Southeast Asia. She opened and ran CNN’s Manila Bureau for nearly a decade before moving to Indonesia and opening the network’s Jakarta bureau, which she ran from 1995 to 2005. That was when she returned to Manila as the senior vice president in charge of ABS-CBN’s multimedia news operations, managing about a thousand journalists for the largest news organization in the country.
Maria wrote Seeds of Terror: An Eyewitness Account of al-Qaeda’s Newest Center of Operations in Southeast Asia and From Bin Laden to Facebook: 10 Days of Abduction, 10 Years of Terrorism. She is writing her third book, How to Stand up to a Dictator, for publication in 2022.