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Pulitzer Center Update October 12, 2021

“How We’re Going to Win the Battle for Truth”

Maria Ressa speaks into a microphone

In June 2020, Philippine journalist Maria Ressa received a jail sentence of up to six years on a...

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Multiple Authors
Zoom Photo of Reporting Fellows

Nobel’s Case for Journalism as 'a Precondition for Democracy'

One of my favorite Pulitzer Center events is Reporting Fellows Weekend, this year featuring presentations on projects from around the world by 71 students and recent graduates of our Campus Consortium member schools. I got a crash course on a staggering array of topics, from the mental health of Chinese immigrant truck drivers in New York to the tropical diseases neglected during the COVID-19 pandemic. I was struck, as ever, by the crucial role of journalists in sharing stories that would otherwise go untold.

The Fellows gathered online Friday afternoon, just a few hours after another reminder of that crucial role: the award of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize to Maria Ressa, director of the Filipino news site Rappler, and Dmitry A. Muratov, editor in chief of Russia’s Novaya Gazeta. The Nobel committee said Ressa and Muratov were being honored for “their efforts to safeguard freedom of expression, which is a precondition for democracy and lasting peace”—and as “representatives of all journalists who stand up for this ideal in a world in which democracy and freedom of the press face increasingly adverse conditions.”

One of the six journalists murdered during Muratov’s editorship of Novaya Gazeta was Anna Politkovskaya, assassinated in 2006 to stop her crusading exposés of Vladimir Putin’s brutal war in Chechnya. Attacks on journalists like Politkovskaya led to our support, along with the Nieman Foundation, for Fatima Tlisova’s investigation of eight journalists killed while reporting in the Caucasus region. The work with Tlisova became the inspiration for the Persephone Miel Fellowships that we have been awarding ever since.

The 2014 Miel Fellow was Filipina journalist Ana P. Santos and she has received multiple grants since, most of them for projects featured on Rappler. Earlier this year we helped fund The Forbidden Stories of, a series of five videos on the investigations by that the Philippine government has tried to silence. The series is a wonderful demonstration of what makes Ressa such an inspiration, as is the interview with her by our senior editor Boyoung Lim for the Double Exposure Film Festival.

In a statement after winning the Nobel, Ressa said, “When you don’t have facts, you don’t have truth. You don’t have trust. Trust is what holds us together to be able to solve the complex problems our world is facing today.”

Our deepest appreciation to Ressa, to Muratov, and to all the journalists risking life and liberty in what Ressa calls “the battle for truth.” It’s a battle that all of us can join—and should.

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Two Pulitzer Center-supported projects were honored as winners in the inaugural Covering Climate Now Journalism Awards. In the Audio/Radio category, Alaska Natives on the Front Line was praised for its “rare, insider look” into the precariousness of tundra existence through intimate conversations with residents. The Great Climate Migration also received acclaim in the Special Coverage category for “painstaking journalism combined with absorbing storytelling,” accompanied by images that the judges called “impossible to ignore.”

This message first appeared in the October 12, 2021, edition of the Pulitzer Center's weekly newsletter. Subscribe today.

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