WASHINGTON DC, USA – “We’re journalists, and we will not be intimidated.”
Rappler CEO and Executive Editor Maria Ressa received the W. Averell Harriman Democracy Award on Thursday, November 2, during the National Democratic Institute’s (NDI) annual Democracy Dinner held at the Fairmont Hotel in Washington DC.
Rappler is one of 3 organizations recognized by NDI this year for their work in fighting disinformation and fake news.
In her speech on Thursday, Ressa talked about how the excuse of free speech is “being used to stifle free speech” today. (READ: Democracy under threat: We will shine the light, we will hold the line)
“We are seeing free speech used as an excuse for posts that incite hate & violence deployed against journalists, activists, and anyone perceived to be critical of government,” she said.
She also clarified that Rappler is not against President Rodrigo Duterte.
“Rappler is not anti-Duterte. In fact, he recognizes our coverage of his campaign helped elect him,” she added.
Ressa also urged technology companies to take action against disinformation.
“Journalists are no longer the gatekeepers to the public space. We’ve lost that role. To the tech companies running their platforms, I appeal to you to take action – be transparent … to be accountable. You’ve built a city. Now put traffic lights and laws. Stop the impunity.”
The annual W. Averell Harriman Democracy Award recognizes an individual or organization that has demonstrated a commitment to democracy and human rights.
Aside from Rappler, the only other recipient of the award from the Philippines was former President Corazon Aquino, who was recognized by NDI back in 2004.
NDI is chaired by Madeleine Albright, the 64th US secretary of state, the first woman to become America’s top diplomat.
Past recipients of this award include former UN secretary general Kofi Annan, first Czech Republic president Václav Havel, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, former US presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, first female African head of state Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, and Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa. – Rappler.com