Maria Ressa, a Filipino and American journalist who won the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize for reporting on abuses of power and fake news, will be the distinguished speaker for the Asia Leadership Forum at the University of Notre Dame on March 21. Sponsored by the Liu Institute for Asia and Asian Studies, the free event starts at 4:30 p.m. in the Patricia George Decio Theatre at the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center.
Notre Dame Law Professor Diane Desierto, a Liu Institute faculty fellow and international human rights attorney, will moderate a discussion after the lecture.
Additionally, a public discussion of Ressa’s recently released memoir, How to Stand Up to A Dictator: The Fight for Our Future, will be held on March 7. Details will follow.
“Maria Ressa’s bravery in speaking truth to power is profound,” said Michel Hockx, director of the Liu Institute. “Her commitment to democracy, especially revealed by her tireless work to expose and fight against fake news, is equally inspiring.”
A former CNN correspondent and bureau chief in Jakarta and Manila, Ressa cofounded the Philippines-based news site Rappler in 2012 with three other women. Rappler earned acclaim for combating fake news in addition to exposing human rights abuses by the regime of former Philippines president Rodrigo Duterte.
In awarding Ressa the 2021 Peace Prize, the Nobel committee wrote, “As an investigative journalist, she has distinguished herself as a fearless defender of freedom of expression and has exposed the abuse of power, use of violence and increasing authoritarianism of the regime of President Rodrigo Duterte. In particular, Ms. Ressa has focused critical attention on President Duterte’s controversial, murderous anti-drug campaign. She and Rappler have also documented how social media are being used to spread fake news, harass opponents and manipulate public discourse.”
In her Nobel acceptance speech, Ressa spoke of the last journalist to win the peace prize, Carl von Ossientzky in 1935, who couldn’t accept the prize because he was being held in a Nazi concentration camp. “By giving the honor to me and Dmitry Muratov of Russia, the Norwegian Nobel committee signaled that the world was at a similar historical moment, another existential point for democracy,” she said.
Born in Manila in 1963, Ressa moved to the United States at age 9 with her family. After studying at Princeton University, she returned to live in the Philippines and launched her journalism career. Among her many awards, her work combating fake news earned Ressa the cover of Time as its 2018 Person of the Year representing journalists fighting disinformation.
The Asia Leadership Forum invites leaders from Asia to discuss topics within a global context. Past speakers are former Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (2015), former Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou (2016), and former United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (2018).
The Liu Institute for Asia and Asian Studies, part of the Keough School of Global Affairs, promotes awareness, understanding and knowledge of Asia through administering a supplementary major and minor in Asian studies, supporting student and faculty scholarship, organizing public events, and facilitating interaction and exchanges with partners in Asia. The Institute was established by a gift from the RM Liu Foundation that supports the philanthropic activities of Robert and Mimi Liu and their children, Emily and Justin, both Notre Dame graduates.