A prominent journalist in Asia for more than 35 years, Maria Ressa is the co-founder, CEO, and Executive Editor of Rappler.com, the top digital-only news site leading the fight for press freedom in the Philippines. Ressa has been honored around the world for her courageous and bold work in fighting disinformation, “fake news,” and attempts to silence the free press.
In 2021, she was one of two journalists awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her work in exposing abuses of power and growing authoritarianism under Philippine President, Rodrigo Duterte. As she accepted the award, Ressa called the world to action, reminding us all that, “Without facts, you can’t have truth. Without truth, you can’t have trust. Without trust, we have no shared reality, no democracy, and it becomes impossible to deal with our world’s existential problems: climate, coronavirus, the battle for truth.”
Ressa advises organizations and corporations on corporate governance, values, and strategy. Her experience as a journalist and an entrepreneur in the digital world makes her a sought-after keynote speaker and panelist.
For her courage and work on disinformation and “fake news,” Ressa was named one of Time Magazine’s 2018 Person of the Year, was among its 100 Most Influential People of 2019, and has also been named one of Time’s Most Influential Women of the Century. She was also part of the BBC’s 100 most inspiring and influential women of 2019 and Prospect magazine’s world’s top 50 thinkers. In 2020, she received the Journalist of the Year award, the John Aubuchon Press Freedom Award, the Most Resilient Journalist Award, the Tucholsky Prize, the Truth to Power Award, and the Four Freedoms Award. In 2021, UNESCO awarded her the Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize.
Ressa was born in the Philippines but grew up in the United States after her family migrated to Toms River, New Jersey in 1973. She attended Princeton University, graduating cum laude with a B.A. degree in English and certificates in theater and dance. After graduation in 1986, she returned to Manila on a Fulbright fellowship and worked for the newly liberated government station, as director of newscasts, then as head of its special projects team. In 1987, she began reporting for CNN and joined ABS-CBN as the director and producer of Probe, the first and longest-running investigative news magazine in the Philippines.
In 1988, she opened and ran CNN’s Manila Bureau for nearly a decade before moving to Indonesia and opening the network’s Jakarta bureau, which she ran until 2005. She then returned to Manila as the senior vice president in charge of ABS-CBN’s multimedia news operations, managing about a thousand journalists for the largest news organization in the country.
Ressa wrote Seeds of Terror: An Eyewitness Account of al-Qaeda’s Newest Center of Operations in Southeast Asia and From Bin Laden to Facebook: 10 Days of Abduction, 10 Years of Terrorism. She is writing her third book, How to Stand up to a Dictator, for publication in 2022. Rappler’s battle for truth and democracy is the subject of the 2020 Sundance Film Festival documentary, A Thousand Cuts.