Maria Ressa reminds journalists: An attack on one is an attack on all
HAMBURG, Germany – Rappler CEO and executive editor Maria Ressa on Saturday, September 28, urged the public to do the right thing amid blatant undermining of press freedom and democracy around the world.
Speaking before 1,500 journalists during the 2019 Global Investigative Journalism Conference in Hamburg, Germany, Ressa warned that not addressing issues now would lead to further deterioration of democratic institutions.
"An attack on one is an attack on all," she said. "If we don't take the right steps forward, democracy as we know it is dead."
In her speech, Ressa cited the widespread disinformation and attacks against media not just in the Philippines but in other countries.
"Never before has our profession demanded so much from us, courage," she said. "The battle for truth is really the battle of our generation."
A journalist for more than 30 years, Ressa co-founded Rappler in 2012. She was former CNN bureau chief and ABS-CBN News executive.
Since rising to power in 2016, President Rodrigo Duterte has subjected Rappler and Ressa to threats, harassment, and intimidation over the news organization's critical coverage of disinformation and the violent war on drugs, among others. (READ: LIST: Cases vs Maria Ressa, Rappler directors, staff since 2018)
Ressa warned that what Rappler is experiencing might manifest in other countries if necessary actions are not taken.
"If nothing changes, what happened to us is going to happen to you," she said.
But what can be done? Ressa urged journalists to do away with old definitions and collaborate with each other, as well as with the academe, technology industry, and civil society, to protect facts.
"Seek what we have in common over what drives us apart because that's the way the bad guys are working: They take a fracture line in our societies and pound it open to separate us into us vs them," she said.
Ressa called on the public to demand accountability from tech platforms because they are the ones who can do "something meaningful" against disinformation. She also pushed for a global database of disinformation networks to stop countries and companies from getting away with impunity.
"We need to seriously come together and fight because an attack on one is an attack on all," Ressa said. "Power and bullies will never stop if you give in to them." – Rappler.com