Breaking: Nobel Peace Prize laureate Maria Ressa to speak at SFU tonight

Vancouver, B. C.

Ressa is first and only Filipino to receive an honorary degree from a Canadian university

Charmaine Y. Rodriguez and Teodoro Alcuitas

Nobel Peace Prize laureate and Simon Fraser University (SFU) Honorary Degree recipient and renowned journalist Maria Ressa is in town for the SFU Vancouver Speaker Series to discuss the threat disinformation campaigns pose to “our increasingly polarized democracies” at 7 p.m. tonight (Tuesday, September 13, 2022).

The talk to be held at  SFU Goldcorp Centre for the Arts, in Vancouver and available for livestream to this who registered is already sold out.

Ressa is a renowned investigative journalist who received the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize for her fearless defense of press freedom and democracy in the Philippines as CEO and co-founder of Rappler, an online news site.

“For her critical reporting of former President Rodrigo Duterte’s government and policies, she faces multiple lawsuits and potentially over 100 years in prison yet remains resolved in her fight to speak truth to power,” SFU’s website reads.

Ressa’s forthcoming book How to Stand up to a Dictator maps out a global network of disinformation from Duterte’s drug wars, to America’s Capitol Hill, to Britain’s Brexit, to Russian cyberwarfare to Silicon Valley and beyond.

“How to Stand Up to a Dictator is the story of how democracy dies by a thousand cuts, and how an invisible atom bomb has exploded online that is killing our freedoms,” SFU’s website added.

Ressa’s talk in the SFU Vancouver Speaker Series will be through a conversation with Carol Off, former host of ‘As it Happens’ on CBC Radio One.

SFU President Joy Johnson will briefly take the stage to celebrate Ressa as an SFU Honorary Degree recipient. Andrea Crossan, Executive Editor at the Global Reporting Centre will provide closing remarks. Ressa, the first Filipino to be honoured, was awarded the degree last year but awarding ceremonies were postponed because of the pandemic.

This SFU Vancouver Speaker Series event is presented in partnership by SFU Vancouver, SFU Public Square, SFU’s Vancity Office of Community Engagement, the Digital Democracies Institute, Ouano Foundation, the University of British Columbia and the Global Reporting Centre.

The SFU Vancouver Speaker Series brings global experts to a local audience. Launched in 2012, the series builds on SFU’s rich history of community engagement by exploring critical issues to contribute to better understanding among Vancouver’s citizens through an intellectually enriching experience.
“SFU’s honorary degree is the highest honour conferred by the university. The degrees are awarded to distinguished individuals in recognition of their scholarly, scientific or artistic achievement, or in recognition of exceptional contribution to the public good. Honorary degree recipients’ achievements celebrate our values and serve as an inspiration to our students, graduands and our community. “
McGill University 2022 Beatty Lecturer
Ressa will also be McGill University’s Beatty lecturer on October 20, 2022 during Its annual Homecoming festivities.
“A courageous defender of press freedom and of human rights, Nobel laureate Maria Ressa is a vital voice in today’s world. McGill University is proud that she will deliver the 2022 Beatty Lecture on our downtown campus in Montreal,” says Martha Crago,McGill’s  Vice-Principal, Research and Innovation. “For 68 years, the Beatty has promoted critical thinking and offered a forum for the open exchange of ideas — values Ressa has worked tirelessly to uphold.”

McGill U:

A celebrated champion of press freedom

Ressa launched her career in journalism working for a Philippine news and entertainment broadcaster, and for the Philippine government’s television network. She then joined CNN, working as an investigative reporter and foreign correspondent, reporting on terrorist networks in Southeast Asia. Ressa ran CNN’s Manila bureau for nearly a decade before opening the network’s Jakarta bureau, which she ran from 1995 to 2005. In 2012, she co-founded Rappler, a start-up online news website. Today, Rappler is the fourth-largest news website in the Philippines and has grown from a team of 12 to one with over 100 journalists.

Born in Manila in 1963, Ressa was nine years old when her family moved to the United States. She attended Princeton University where she earned a bachelor’s degree in English and certificates in theatre and dance in 1986. She returned to the Philippines as a Fulbright graduate student fellow at the University of the Philippines in 1986 where she took up studies in political theatre.

Exposing governmental corruption

As an investigative journalist, Ressa has distinguished herself by exposing the increasing authoritarianism of the Duterte regime. After he was elected in 2016, Rappler was one of the few news organizations in the country to criticize Duterte’s policies including his brutal anti-drug campaign. Ressa, who is a dual citizen  of the Philippines and the United States, has been arrested on 10 charges related to exposing the Duterte government’s corrupt practices and was convicted of cyber-libel in June 2021. She is out on bail pending her appeal.

Ressa and Rappler have also documented how social media is being used to spread fake news and manipulate public discourse as well as how this spread of misinformation censures journalists through intimidation, harassment, and even legal action. In 2020, Ressa became one the 25 members of the Real Facebook Oversight Board, an independent watchdog group established to provide public commentary on Facebook’s content moderation policies and role in civic life.

In addition to her journalism, Ressa is the author of two books, Seeds of Terror: An Eyewitness Account of Al-Qaeda’s Newest Center of Operations in Southeast Asia and From Bin Laden to Facebook: 10 Days of Abduction, 10 Years of Terrorism. Her next and highly anticipated book, How to Stand Up to a Dictator, is set to be released in 2022. Ressa was featured in the 2020 documentary A Thousand Cuts, which profiles her fearless reporting on the abuses of Duterte’s presidency.

International accolades 

Ressa is the recipient of numerous prestigious awards, including the Knight International Journalism Award, World Association of Newspaper’s Golden Pen of Freedom Award, Columbia Journalism Award, Canadian Journalism Foundation’s Tribute honour, Gwen Ifill Press Freedom Award, Shorenstein Journalism Award, Free Media Pioneer Award, Sergei Magnitsky Award for Investigative Journalism, UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize, John Aubuchon Press Freedom Award, Tucholsky Prize, Truth to Power Award, and the Four Freedoms Award.

For her courage and work on disinformation and ‘fake news,’ Ressa was named Time’s 2018 Person of the Year, was among Time’s 100 Most Influential People of 2019, and honoured as one of Time’s 100 Women of the Year in 2020, which listed the most influential women of the past century. She was also named one of the BBC’s Top 100 Women of 2019 and Prospect Magazine’s world’s top 50 thinkers in 2019.

Ressa serves on the Advisory Board of McGill’s Centre for Media, Technology and Democracy at the Max Bell School of Public Policy. Collaborating with a network of academic, policy, journalistic and community stakeholders, the Centre works to understand and address the democratic harms of emerging media technologies and to inform and develop fair and accountable governance systems.

About the Beatty Lecture

The Beatty Lecture is one of the longest running lecture series in North America, and uniquely international in scope, inviting lecturers from around the world to speak at McGill. It was established in 1952 in honour of Sir Edward Beatty, McGill’s Chancellor from 1920 to 1943. Recent past Beatty Lecturers have included nature conservation advocate Jane Goodall, cultural critic Roxane Gay, and philosopher Charles Taylor. The 2020 Beatty Lecture with cognitive psychologist Steven Pinker and 2021 Beatty Lecture with infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci were held virtually due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

For more event details, including information on when tickets will go on sale, please visit McGill’s Beatty Lecture webpage and follow the Facebook Event Page. Media are invited to contact the Beatty organizing committee with requests.

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