A journalist in Asia for more than 37 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."
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 took up premed at Princeton University, where she graduated cum laude with a B.A. degree in English and certificates in theater and dance in 1986. 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.