Maria Ressa: The Filipino Journalist Who Stood Up To A Dictator 

Drugs, wars, death threats and disinformation. This is the story of how journalist and Nobel Peace Prize winner, Maria Ressa and her team Rappler, stood up to a dictator, the Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte.  

Ressa’s reporting on the Philippines’ war on drugs and killings has witnessed her receiving numerous death threats and legal cases designed to silence her. But she did not flinch, and she would not stop.  

How does she win the fight under Duterte’s brutal murder and extreme control? How does she survive as a watchdog journalist when at least eight people are murdered every night? What does it take to defend democracy and the facts of the news?   

Listen to episode three of Defending Democracy with Malcolm Turnbull below:   

In episode four of Defending Democracy with Malcolm Turnbull, former Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull talks to Maria Ressa, discussing the importance of fact-checking on social media and the fundamental role of trust within society.  

Ressa says the foundational problem of the information ecosystem is when lies are rewarded. 

“When your information ecosystem is corrupted, nothing else can be pristine,” she said. 

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In the Philippines, Ressa has established a four layers pyramid approach that includes four solutions with people from journalism and law backgrounds to filter the false information to protect information and facts online. 

“Microtargeting means that they take your most vulnerable moment to a message, feed it to you for profit, and then shift your perspective. This is where it becomes Pavlovian,” she said. 

Ressa said the spread of lies and the lack of regulation on online information should be seen as a freedom of reach issue and distribution rather than freedom of speech. 

“It’s not a free speech issue. Anyone can say anything, right? Their crazy neighbour can keep talking about his crazy ideas, but it’s what we choose. And I’m gonna say this is where the platforms go wrong, what they choose to give exponential distribution, and that’s the incentive it is to take the crazy neighbour’s crazy theory and put it on the front page of the newspaper.” 

There are four episodes of Defending Democracy with Malcolm Turnbull are available now onLiSTNR or wherever you get your podcasts.