WATCH: Maria Ressa, other journalists at Times Square NY for Ball Drop

Mara Cepeda
WATCH: Maria Ressa, other journalists at Times Square NY for Ball Drop
Times Square Alliance president Tim Tompkins says it is fitting to honor free press and free speech in one of the world's most famous public squares as the world welcomes 2019


MANILA, Philippines – Rappler chief executive officer Maria Ressa is among the 11 journalists who will be honored as special guests at the Times Square New Year’s Eve Ball Drop program on Monday, December 31, New York time. 

Ressa, 10 other journalists, as well as the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) will be pushing the crystal button that will signal the lowering of the Waterford Crystal Times Square New Year’s Eve Ball to highlight the 60-second countdown for the New Year in New York.

Aside from Ressa, the journalists to be honored at Times Square are: 

  • Karen Attiah, global opinions editor, The Washington Post
  • Rebecca Blumenstein, deputy managing editor, The New York Times
  • Alisyn Camerota, co-anchor, CNN New Day
  • Vladimir Duthiers, correspondent, CBS news and anchor, CBSN
  • Edward Felsenthal, editor-in-chief, TIME
  • Lester Holt, anchor, NBC Nightly News and Dateline NBC
  • Matt Murray, editor-in-chief, The Wall Street Journal
  • Martha Raddatz, chief global affairs correspondent and “This Week” co-Anchor,
  • ABC News
  • Jon Scott, anchor, Fox Report Weekend on Fox News Channel
  • Karen Toulon, senior editor, Bloomberg

CPJ is the official charity honoree of the Times Square New Year’s Eve program, which is viewed by billions all over the world annually. It is organized by the Times Square Alliance and Countdown Entertainment.

A report by US broadcast giant ABC News said what is unique about this year’s Times Square NYE ball drop is that “journalists from major media organizations are being invited to the main stage for the ‘Special Guest’ moment, a distinction typically reserved for glitterati and prominent leaders. 

CPJ executive director Joel Simon said the journalists who will lead the countdown to 2019 are “highly distinguished.” 

“They are also representatives of all journalists in the United States, and around the world who work hard every day to keep their communites informed and hold the powerful to account. It’s the freedom to do this critical work that we celebrate,” said Simon.

Ressa’s invitation to join the Times Square New Year’s Eve program comes after Time magazine named her as “Person of the Year” along with slain Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, detained Reuters reporters Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, and the staff of the Capital Gazette in Annapolis, Maryland. Time dubbed them as “The Guardians.”

“We are honored to have such a respected group of media entities and journalists join us to #CelebratePressFreedom as we ring in the New Year,” said Times Square Alliance president Tim Tompkins.

“In one of the world’s most famous public square it is fitting to celebrate free press and free speech as we reflect on where we’ve been during the past year and what it is we value most as a society,” he added. 

Tompkins then called the public to support journalists by using the #CelebratePressFreedom hashtag or to visit to learn more about CPJ.

Special guests of previous Times Square New Year’s Eve ball drop programs include former United Nations secretary-general Ban Ki-Moon, iconic boxer Muhammad Ali, US Supreme Court Justice Sonya Sotomayor, former secretary of state Colin Powell, Lady Gaga, former US president Bill Clinton and then-secretary of state Hillary Clinton, Medal of Honor winner Salvatore Giunta, #MeToo founder Tarana Burke, Superman actor Christopher Reeve, and International Rescue Committee president David Miliband.

The official Times Square website said that celebrating New Year’s Eve in Times Square started “as early as 1904, but it was in 1907 that the New Year’s Eve Ball made its maiden descent from the flagpole atop One Times Square.” –

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda specializes in stories about politics and local governance. She covers the Office of the Vice President, the Senate, and the Philippine opposition. She is a 2021 fellow of the Asia Journalism Fellowship and the Reham al-Farra Memorial Journalism Fellowship of the UN. Got tips? Email her at or tweet @maracepeda.