The commitment to shine light on fact was recently acknowledged on the global stage.
The Nobel Peace Prize Committee awarded the Peace Prize to two investigative journalists for their reporting on corrupt governments and leadership.
The journalists, Maria Ressa of the Philippines and Dmitry Muratov of Russia, were recognized for their courage in reporting news in face of harassment and death threats.
“They are 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,” the committee wrote. It also noted that “free, independent and fact-based journalism serves to protect against abuse of power, lies and war propaganda.”
Ressa was recognized for investigative stories that have exposed government corruption. Her writing appears on rappler.com — named for Rappler, a digital media company she co-founded. Ressa also has been highly critical of her country’s authoritarian president, Rodrigo Duterte.
Muratov, editor of the Novaya Gazeta Russian newspaper, was recognized for continuing to defend press freedom, even after six journalists on his staff were killed for stories they had written that were critical of the Russian government.
I was heartened and encouraged by their global award. This was only the third time in the 120-year history of the Nobel Peace Prize that journalists have been honored. The first was in 1907, when an Italian newspaper editor was awarded the prize. The second, in 1935, was awarded to a German journalist in prison.
In news stories announcing the award, both journalists acknowledged how difficult it is to be a journalist today. I agree. The battle for facts can be exhausting.
We have seen it in our own state, when rioting and protests erupted in 2020 following police shootings in the greater Twin Cities area. Properly identified and credentialed journalists were threatened, shot with rubber bullets, pepper-sprayed and told to leave the area where protests were taking place. The American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota filed a lawsuit to stop law enforcement from attacking, harassing or retaliating against reporters covering the Daunte Wright trial in Brooklyn Center.
A federal judge ruled in April that state law enforcement could not attack or arrest journalists for covering protests.
“… If the press cannot document these ongoing events of public importance, plaintiffs’ First Amendment rights will be irreparably harmed,” the judge wrote.
A free press is critical to our democracy. It aids the public in making informed decisions. It helps keep the government accountable to its citizens.
Speaking truth to power.
We cannot stop.