Philippines Investigative Journalist and Press Freedom Beacon Maria Ressa Wins 2019 Shorenstein Journalism Award

Portrait of Maria Ressa Rappler

STANFORD, CA, May 21, 2019 — Stanford University’s Walter H. Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center (APARC) announced today that the esteemed journalist Maria Ressa is the recipient of the 2019 Shorenstein Journalism Award. Ressa, the cofounder, CEO, and executive editor of the Philippine news platform Rappler, has been a highly-regarded journalist in Asia for more than thirty years and commended worldwide for her courageous work in fighting disinformation and attempts to silence the free press. Presented annually by APARC, the Shorenstein award is conferred upon a journalist who has contributed significantly to greater understanding of Asia through outstanding reporting on critical issues affecting the region. Ressa will receive the award at a ceremony at Stanford in fall quarter 2019.

Ressa spent nearly two decades at CNN, where she was lead investigative reporter focusing on terrorism in Southeast Asia and served as the network’s bureau chief in Manila, then Jakarta. She then became head of news and current affairs at ABS-CBN, the largest media network in the Philippines. Her work aimed to redefine journalism by combining traditional broadcast and new media for social change. In 2012, Ressa launched Rappler, turning it into one of the Philippines’ most influential news organizations and integrating data, content, and new technologies to promote public service journalism and civic engagement. With a commitment to editorial independence, Rappler has often produced critical coverage of Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte’s controversial policies and actions. In response to these reports, Duterte and his government have repeatedly targeted Rappler and Ressa with threats and lawsuits. Ressa has been arrested twice in recent months.

“Maria Ressa is a champion of digital journalism innovation, and a paragon of protecting democracy and speaking truth to power,” said Gi-Wook Shin, Shorenstein APARC director. “For decades, before she became internationally acclaimed for her brave fight to ‘hold the line,’ Maria’s work had provided deep insights into the complexities of Southeast Asia based on her nuanced knowledge, investigative skills, and the ability to draw upon them to connect with audiences around the world. We are honored to recognize her with the Shorenstein Journalism Award.”

Ressa has taught courses in politics and the press in Southeast Asia for her alma mater, Princeton University, and in broadcast journalism for the University of the Philippines. She is the author of two books: From Bin Laden to Facebook (2012), which traces the spread of terrorism from the training camps of Afghanistan to Southeast Asia and the Philippines, and Seeds of Terror: An Eyewitness Account of Al-Qaeda’s Newest Center of Operations in Southeast Asia (2003), which documented the changing tactics of Al-Qaeda and its next-generation roots in the Muslim strongholds in the Philippines and Indonesia.

The Shorenstein Journalism Award, which carries a $10,000 cash prize, honors the legacy of APARC’s benefactor, Mr. Walter H. Shorenstein, and his twin passions for promoting excellence in journalism and understanding of Asia. APARC recently introduced a new selection committee for the award that presides over the judging of nominees and honoree selection. “We are grateful to the Shorenstein family for its support of our Center and its mission, and to our selection committee members for their expertise and service,” noted Shin. “Our sincere thanks also to the members of the award’s previous jury for their contributions over the years.”

The independent selection committee for the Shorenstein Journalism Award, which unanimously chose Ressa as the 2019 honoree, includes Wendy Cutler, Vice President and Managing Director, Washington, D.C. Office, Asia Society Policy Institute; James Hamilton, Hearst Professor of Communication, Chair of the Department of Communication, and Director of the Stanford Journalism Program, Stanford University; Raju Narisetti, Director of the Knight-Bagehot Fellowship in Economics and Business Journalism and Professor of Professional Practice at Columbia Journalism School; Philip Pan, Asia Editor, The New York Times; and Prashanth Parameswaran, Senior Editor, The Diplomat.  

“Maria Ressa is recognized around the world as a stellar leader in accountability journalism,” said committee member James Hamilton. “As an investigative reporter at CNN, she shed light on terrorism’s threats in Southeast Asia. In cofounding and leading the online news outlet Rappler, she’s brought attention to contentious politics and policies in the Philippines even as she endured politically motivated arrests for her coverage.”

Ressa has earned multiple honors and awards by professional peers and international press freedom organizations, including the Golden Pen of Freedom Award from the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers, the Knight International Journalism Award of the International Center for Journalists, the Gwen Ifill Press Freedom Award of the Committee to Protect Journalists, the Free Media Pioneer Award from the International Press Institute, the National Democratic Institute’s Democracy Award, and the 2018 Time magazine Person of the Year.

Seventeen journalists have previously received the Shorenstein award, including most recently Anna Fifield, the Washington Post’s Beijing Bureau Chief and long-time North Korea watcher; Siddharth Varadarajan, founding editor of the Wire and former editor of the Hindu; Ian Johnson, a veteran journalist with a focus on Chinese society, religion, and history; and Yoichi Funabashi, former editor-in-chief of the Asahi Shimbun.

Information about the 2019 Shorenstein Journalism Award ceremonies featuring Ressa will be forthcoming in the fall quarter.

Find out more at

Media Contact:

Noa Ronkin
Associate Director for Communications and External Relations
Shorenstein APARC