Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Maria Ressa to speak at Notre Dame Forum event

Author: Notre Dame News

A portrait of Maria Ressa wearing a black shirt and black blazer.

Maria Ressa, Nobel Peace Prize laureate, acclaimed journalist and renowned defender of democracy, will be the featured speaker at the 2023-24 University of Notre Dame Forum event “Safeguarding Democracy in an Era of AI and Digital Disinformation” from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday (March 20) in the Smith Ballroom at the Morris Inn. Andrés Mejía Acosta, Kuster Family Associate Dean for Policy and Practice at the Keough School of Global Affairs, will moderate a conversation following Ressa’s lecture. The event is free and open to the public.

In 2012, Ressa co-founded Rappler, the top digital-only news site leading the fight for press freedom in the Philippines. The site earned recognition for combating fake news in addition to exposing human rights abuses by the regime of former Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte.

“Maria Ressa’s fearless advocacy for democracy and bravery as a journalist is inspiring,” said University President Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C. “Having risked her own life and freedom to defend democracy in the Philippines, she is committed to ensuring that we as citizens understand the impact of technology on our democratic processes. We are honored to welcome her back to Notre Dame.”

Ressa was one of two journalists awarded the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of her “efforts to safeguard freedom of expression, which is a precondition for democracy and lasting peace,” the selection committee said. She was the first Filipino to win a Nobel Peace Prize. In 2018, Time also honored Ressa and several other journalists as its Person of the Year “in recognition of those who faced persecution, arrest or murder for their reporting.”

Featured in a Notre Dame “What Would You Fight For” story, she was appointed in February as a distinguished policy fellow at the University’s Keough School of Global Affairs. She also delivered the Liu Institute for Asia and Asian Studies Asia Leadership Forum lecture in spring 2023. She will be presenting at the Keough School’s Washington Office as part of a March 14 discussion on digital democracy.

Born in Manila, Ressa moved to the United States with her family at a young age. After studying at Princeton University, she returned to live in the Philippines and launched her journalism career. Before co-founding Rappler, she worked as a CNN correspondent and bureau chief in Jakarta and Manila. She was also 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.

As Rappler’s CEO, Ressa endured multiple arrests by the Philippine government, a barrage of online hate and constant political harassment. She was also arrested on the country’s first-of-its-kind charge of cyber libel. She awaits a decision on that case from the Philippines Supreme Court.

For her principled stance, courage and work on disinformation and fake news, Ressa has won numerous awards around the world, including the prestigious Golden Pen of Freedom Award from the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers. In 2021, UNESCO awarded her the Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize. Her work combating fake news is also the subject of a 2020 Sundance Film Festival documentary, “A Thousand Cuts.”

She is the author of three books concerning the rise of terrorism in Southeast Asia: “Seeds of Terror: An Eyewitness Account of Al-Qaeda’s Newest Center of Operations in Southeast Asia,” “From Bin Laden to Facebook: 10 Days of Abduction, 10 Years of Terrorism” and “How to Stand Up To a Dictator: The Fight for Our Future.”

In 2022, she was appointed by the United Nations secretary-general to the leadership panel of the Internet Governance Forum and serves as its vice chair. She has also served as a fellow at the Initiative on the Digital Economy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; as a Joan Shorenstein Fellow at the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy; and as a Hauser Leader at the Center for Public Leadership at Harvard Kennedy School. She is an inaugural Carnegie Distinguished Fellow at Columbia University’s Institute of Global Politics. In July, she will join the faculty of Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs as a professor of professional practice.

This event is co-sponsored by the Office of the President and the Keough School. It is the final keynote event for the 2023-24 Notre Dame Forum on “The Future of Democracy,” a series of discussions designed to foster respectful and informed dialogue on national and global issues. The conversation will be livestreamed at