The Forbidden Stories of Rappler: freedom groups highlight Maria Ressa campaign 

Posted on: February 26, 2021 by admin

A special series of videos showcasing the work of Filipino investigative journalist Maria Ressa has been launched as part of an international campaign of support.

Filipino-American journalist, Ressa is best known for two decades covering South East Asia for CNN and founding the multi-award winning Philippines news website Rappler. 

In June 2020, she was convicted of “cyber-libel”, alongside former Rappler colleague Reynaldo Santos Jr — a criminal charge for which they face up to six years in prison. The conviction relates to a story about corruption from 2012 – before the law was even enacted – and hung on the correction of a typo.

Ressa and Santos both posted bail, but could be imprisoned if the case is not overturned on appeal. Ressa is facing other charges. Guilty verdicts in all of them could result in her spending nearly a century in jail. Rappler is also implicated in most of these cases, with several involving criminal charges related to libel, foreign ownership, and taxes. 

The new initiative showcases a series of five short videos directed by Phineas Rueckert with the support of the Pulitzer Center and the help of the Rappler team. The videos highlight not just the cases against Ressa but also the critical investigative journalism Rappler is doing on a daily basis. Each video is about 3-4 minutes long and looks in-depth at a specific Rappler investigation.

Recently nominated for the Nobel Prize, Maria Ressa has been released on bail 10 times in less than two years — just for pursuing challenging stories. 

“I think that journalists should come together. The most effective way to deal with both attacks on social media and the kind of draconian policies that are coming now to prevent journalists from doing their jobs is to fight it together,” Ressa said.  

The initiative includes international news organizations and advocacy groups sharing “The Forbidden Stories of Rappler.” 

A petition was launched last year to support Ressa and quickly passed the 10,000 signatories mark.

Organised by the campaign #HoldTheLine the petition is supported by over 60 media freedom organisations including the Society of Editors.

The #HoldTheLine campaign is being coordinated by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ), and Reporters Without Borders (RSF).

Ian Murray, executive director of the SoE said: “We need to stand together as journalists in the face of such actions and call on our own governments to put words into action where press freedom is concerned”.The videos can be seen by visiting Rappler and the links below.