PETALING JAYA: Maria Ressa, the chief executive officer and executive editor of the Philippines-based news organisation Rappler, has been recognised as the Fellows of the Society by the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ).
Maria was among the four journalists recognised as the Fellows of the Society, which includes Jamal Khasoggi, Terry Anderson and Nick Ut.
It is the highest professional honour awarded by SPJ for extraordinary contributions to journalism.
Maria is an outspoken critic of President Rodrigo Dueterte, who was arrested for “cyber libel”, amid accusations of fake news and corporate tax evasion.
She has since posted bail, while lawsuits are pending in the Philippines regional court.
“Thank you to the SPJ for helping us shine the light in the Philippines, ground zero in a global battle of truth.
"It takes courage to fight back against the insidious manipulation enabled by social media platforms and used as a new weapon against journalists: where lies laced with anger and hate spread faster than facts.
“The battle for truth is the battle of our generation. With technology as the accelerant, a lie told a million times becomes a fact. Without facts, we don't have truth.
“Without truth, there is no trust. This is why democracy is broken around the world. In our country, the bottom up exponential attacks on social media astroturfing and creating a bandwagon effect act to soften the ground before the same lies come top down from our top government officials,” she was quoted as saying by SPJ in a press statement.
Last October, Jamal was dismembered by Saudi Arabia’s agents in its consulate in Istanbul, accelerating into the worst crisis between the Saudi kingdom and the West since Sept 11, 2001.
"The theme of our Fellows awards this year is 'courage.' Faced with daunting challenges to our profession, from rising political repression to the deliberate spreading of misinformation, we are being challenged to stand up for our principles," said SPJ national president J. Alex Tarquinio.
“These four journalists embody everything that is good and true and necessary about our profession. While SPJ is inducting them as Fellows of the Society, our organisation's highest honour, we are the ones who will be honoured to be in the company of such brave, heroic journalists," Tarquinio said.
The four journalists will be honoured as Fellows of the Society at the Excellence in Journalism 2019 conference, in San Antonio, United States, from Sept 5 to 7.