Two journalists won the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize for their reporting on increasingly authoritarian regimes, highlighting the vital role of free expression in protecting peace and democracy.
Maria Ressa, chief executive of the website Rappler, won for exposing abuse of power, violence and growing authoritarianism in the Philippines, the Nobel Committee said October 8. Dmitry Muratov, editor-in-chief of the Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta, has for decades led the independent outlet’s coverage of Russian government corruption, police violence and unlawful arrests.
“Ms Ressa and Mr Muratov are receiving the Peace Prize for their courageous fight for freedom of expression in the Philippines and Russia,” the Nobel Committee said, noting many other journalists also defend democracy in an era of rising authoritarianism.
Freedom House President Michael Abramowitz said the journalists’ award comes amid increasing attacks on press freedoms. “Independent, fact-based journalism that holds the powerful to account is one of the great bulwarks of democracy,” he said.
The United States supports free expression and independent media around the world. Rappler, for example, has received support from the National Endowment for Democracy, funded by the U.S. Congress.
The U.S. government has urged Russian officials to halt their crackdown on press freedoms, including through a so-called foreign agents law. The law allows Russia’s Justice Ministry to label groups or individuals “foreign agents,” stigmatizing their reporting and exposing them to fines and harassment that stymie their work.
The same day that Muratov received the peace prize, Russian authorities added a dozen journalists and media organizations to its registry of foreign agents, including five associated with Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.
“The Russian people, like all people, have the right to freely seek, receive, and impart information and ideas,” State Department Spokesperson Ned Price said March 18.
President Biden commended Ressa, Muratov and other reporters who “tirelessly and fearlessly” pursue the facts. “I applaud the Nobel Committee for honoring Ressa and Muratov’s incredible work and bringing greater attention to the increasing pressure on journalists, the free press, and freedom of expression all around the world,” he said.
Congratulations to #Fulbright alumna Maria Ressa (@mariaressa) on being named a winner of the 2021 #NobelPeacePrize “for [her] efforts to safeguard freedom of expression.” Maria joins 60 other Fulbrighters who have won a @NobelPrize ➡️ https://t.co/5VJP9KqYxc pic.twitter.com/0Oiqjdy0Ta
— The Fulbright Program (@FulbrightPrgrm) October 10, 2021
First awarded in 1901, Nobel prizes recognize outstanding achievements in physiology or medicine, physics, chemistry, literature and peace. The prize in economic sciences was established in 1968 by Sweden’s central bank, in memory of Alfred Nobel.
This year eight of the 13 Nobel Prize winners are U.S. citizens, including Ressa who is Filipino-American.
Here are this year’s winners in the six categories:
Physiology or Medicine
“For their discoveries of receptors for temperature and touch”
- David Julius, University of California, San Francisco, California, U.S.
- Ardem Patapoutian, Scripps Research, La Jolla, California, U.S.
“For the physical modelling of Earth’s climate, quantifying variability and reliably predicting global warming”
- Syukuro Manabe, Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey, U.S.
- Klaus Hasselmann, Max Planck Institute for Meteorology, Hamburg, Germany.
“For the discovery of the interplay of disorder and fluctuations in physical systems from atomic to planetary scales”
- Giorgio Parisi, Sapienza University of Rome, Rome, Italy.
“For the development of asymmetric organocatalysis”
- Benjamin List, Max Planck Institute for Coal Research, Mülheim an der Ruhr, Germany.
- David MacMillan, Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey, U.S.
“For his uncompromising and compassionate penetration of the effects of colonialism and the fate of the refugee in the gulf between cultures and continents”
- Abdulrazak Gurnah, Emeritus Professor of English and Postcolonial Literatures at the University of Kent, U.K.
“For their efforts to safeguard freedom of expression, which is a precondition for democracy and lasting peace”
- Maria Ressa, co-founded Rappler, Philippines.
- Dmitry Andreyevich Muratov, co-founded Novaya Gazeta, Russia.
“For his empirical contributions to labour economics”
- David Card, University of California, Berkeley, California, U.S.
“For their methodological contributions to the analysis of causal relationships”
- Joshua Angrist, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts, U.S.
- Guido Imbens, Stanford University, Stanford, California, U.S.