Dmitry Muratov and Maria Ressa shared the Nobel Peace Prize this year, the first time journalists have been the laureates of the prestigious, and at times controversial, institution.
The Nobel Peace Prize is conferred by the Norwegian parliament, in keeping with the will of Alfred Nobel; the winners in the arts and sciences (including medicine) are selected by the Swedish Nobel Committee, an institution that also has made controversial choices.
Maria Ressa is the co-founder and editor of a Filipino online newspaper, Rappler, which has been notable for its investigations in government and financial corruption and human rights abuses by the Duterte government.
Dmitry Muratov is editor-in-chief of the print newspaper Novaia Gazeta, launched in 1993 by veterans of Komsomolskaya Pravda (the Soviet-era paper of the Young Communist League, in effect a party organ of the Soviet Communist Party), which reported human rights abuses and war crimes during the Russian wars in Chechnya and has investigated corruption and political repression in Russia.
Both Ressa and Muratov live with the knowledge they could end like colleagues of theirs, murdered or in jail. Ressa is currently out on bail and had some difficulty obtaining permission to travel to Oslo. If they are afraid, which they ought to be, they are not daunted.
The Biden administration recently held a “summit for democracy” which included press freedom on its agenda. Good for it, though it has been observed that the best thing a powerful government like ours can do for democracy is ensuring its survival by the maintenance of an adequate security system. To get real, the task for the Biden administration, democracy-wise, is to ensure it is defended in Taiwan. That means the Seventh Fleet. (READ MORE: Does the U.S. Have a Vital National Security Interest in an Independent Ukraine?)
In choosing independent journalists, who are critical of authoritarian state suppression of information and of big private entities (“big tech” in popular parlance but also the establishment media that have tended lately to fall short of their professional and civil responsibilities), the Nobel Committee obviously is trying to draw a connection between the circulation of accurate information and the promotion of peace in the world. No doubt, newsmen cannot enforce peace, but their work can help those entrusted to do so.