Nobel Peace Prize for Maria Ressa and Dmitri A Muratov a win for all journalists calling out authoritarianism

The award of the Nobel Peace Prize to the two journalists, based in the Philippines and Russia, is also recognition of the repression of media everywhere in the world

Dmitry Muratov (Left) Dmitri A Muratov (Right)
Dmitry Muratov (Left) Dmitri A Muratov (Right)

Sushil Kutty

The Nobel Peace Prize for Maria Ressa and Dmitri A. Muratov is a shot in the arm for all journalists at a time when there is “increasing authoritarianism” and “swirling misinformation.” The Nobel Prize Committee has riled dictators with the choice. Ressa from the Philippines and Muratov from Russia have been awarded the prize for holding their leaders to account with their journalism.

The criticism will, of course, follow that the Nobel laureates are conscripted left-liberals and decidedly anti-rightwing. Be that as it may, the fact is Ressa and Dmitri wrote and reported against authoritarianism and it didn’t matter which side of the aisle they or their targets were.

The Nobel Peace Prize for the two journalists is also recognition of the repression of media everywhere in the world. Never mind if it also split the media down the middle. In India, under the Narendra Modi-led BJP Government, there’s the saccharine-spitting ‘Godi Media’ and the fire-spitting ‘Lutyens Media’. The ‘Godi’ ones are not happy with this Nobel pick.

It’s another matter that many of India’s journalists take their journalistic vows seriously and report “both sides” diligently. Honesty is the credo. And these are not the ‘celeb’ TV anchors and print editors with ideology stitched to their collars, owing allegiance to media barons. These are journalists who face authoritarianism day in and day out. Some of them even get killed in the line of work. The latest example is the photojournalist who was killed by a marauding jeep in Lakhimpur Kheri on October 3.

The vehicle was allegedly being driven by the son of a minister in the Modi government. So far, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has not tweeted his grief though he has presumably not forgotten that he is on Twitter. Rest assured, Modi will not tweet “congrats” to Putin for Dmitri getting the Nobel.

India’s WaPo journalist Rana Ayyub tweeted that her “day was made” when she learned that “my dear friend Maria Ressa" had won the Nobel. Ayyub claims she herself is a much-persecuted journalist. Her WaPo opinion pieces, she says, are examples of “speaking truth to power”.

There are half a dozen other “top” journalists giving her company in rattling Modi. They too claim they are victims of Modi’s “dictatorship”. These include those allegedly targeted by the Pegasus spyware. The Pegasus case is in court and its outcome is being keenly awaited.

All said and done, the Nobel for Ressa and Muratov is reassurance that the fight against media repression continues.

Maria Ressa is only the 18th woman to win the Peace Nobel Prize. She’s a beacon for journalists fighting the “good fight” in Asia. Ressa and Muratov were awarded for holding the flag of press freedom high in the Philippines and in Russia.

So far as India is concerned, press freedom is under threat for as long as the current dispensation controls the wheels of governance. A journalist can lose his or her job for being overly excited targeting the government with “scoops”. Media barons guided by the "authorities" often decide what is written and reported.

(IPA Service)

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