Skip to content

This week's editorial

Editor Joan Ritchie's editorial from this week's issue of The Moose Jaw Express

Alfred Nobel, a Swedish chemist, engineer, and industrialist most famously known for the invention of dynamite died in 1896. In his will, he bequeathed all of his "remaining realisable assets" to be used to establish five prizes known as "Nobel Prizes” in the fields of Physics, Chemistry, Physiology or Medicine, Literature and Peace.  Nobel Prizes were first awarded in 1901 and are awarded by a committee elected by the Norwegian Parliament.  

“The said interest shall be divided into five equal parts, which shall be apportioned as follows: /- – -/ one part to the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses.”  (Excerpt from the will of Alfred Nobel)

“Free, independent and fact-based journalism serves to protect against abuse of power, lies and war propaganda. The Norwegian Nobel Committee said they are convinced that freedom of expression and freedom of information help to ensure an informed public. These rights are crucial prerequisites for democracy and protect against war and conflict. The award of the Nobel Peace Prize to Maria Ressa and Dmitry Muratov is intended to underscore the importance of protecting and defending these fundamental rights.”

It was said that the pair whose work has angered the rulers of Russia and the Philippines, were commended for “their courageous fight for freedom of expression.” 

Maria Ressa uses freedom of expression to expose abuse of power, use of violence and growing authoritarianism in her native country, the Philippines.  She co-founded Rappler, a digital media company for investigative journalism and has also documented how social media is being used to spread fake news, harass opponents and manipulate public discourse.

Dmitry Muratov has for decades defended freedom of speech in Russia under increasingly challenging conditions.  He is the editor-in-chief of Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta, and has been a face of Russian investigative journalism since the 1990s. The committee’s decision to award it this year to Muratov appears to be a reflection of the ‘wily’ editor’s ability to keep the paper going despite an increasing Kremlin crackdown.  It has been said that Muratov has a mantra, “It’s an art to say the whole truth, but to stay alive” and understood where the boundaries were, being “strategic” in everything he did.

The 2021 peace prize laureates are representative of all journalists who stand up for this ideal in a world in which democracy and freedom of the press face increasingly adverse conditions.  These two journalists receiving a Nobel Peace Prize is a significant milestone where censorship is pervading the very core of media and is evident even here in Canada, a country where “Freedom of Speech” is touted in our very Constitutional rights but gradually eroded day by day.

“When you tear out a man’s tongue, you are not proving him a liar, you are only telling the world that you fear what he might say…”  
George R.R. Martin – Clash of Kings  

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the position of this publication.