Maria Ressa (Rappler Official Website)

Maria Ressa, the head of the digital news organization Rappler, was chosen as the 2021 recipient of the prestigious Unesco/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Award on Tuesday, April 27.

Ressa will be honored on May 2, 2021, the eve of World Press Freedom Day, in Windhoek, Namibia, during the World Press Freedom Day Global Conference that will be streamed online.

“Maria Ressa’s unerring fight for freedom of expression is an example for many journalists around the world. Her case is emblematic of global trends that represent a real threat to press freedom, and therefore to democracy,” the chairwoman of the international jury for the prize, Marilu Mastrogiovanni, said about Ressa. 

Ressa was previously CNN’s lead investigative reporter for Asia and was also head of ABS-CBN News and Current Affairs. She was named one of the Times’s Persons of the Year in 2018 and has also received other awards like the 2018 WAN-INFRA Golden Pen of Freedom, the 2020 John Aubuchon Press Freedom Award from the Washington-based National Press Club, and the Roosevelt Four Freedoms Award this year. 

Ressa, who has earned the ire of President Rodrigo Duterte and whose website Rappler had been accused of violating foreign ownership rules, cyberlibel and tax evasion, will receive a $25,000 (P1.21 million) prize.

The award was named after Guillermo Cano Isaza, a Colombian journalist who was killed in front of the offices of his newspaper, El Espectador in Bogotá, Colombia, on December 17, 1986.

The 2021 Global Conference will happen from April 29 until May 3, with the theme of “Information as a Public Good.” Some topics to be discussed in the convention include the transparency of online platforms and the importance of media and information literacy.

The conference will also tackle ways to promote and support independent media that struggle to survive in a crisis, like the Covid-19 pandemic, while facing financial instability and other challenges threatening both the organization and workers. J.L. Jimeno