Maria Ressa: Freedom and Fakery in the Philippines Today

Maria Ressa is a veteran investigative journalist and the CEO of the influential Philippine news portal Rappler. In June this year, she and a colleague were found guilty of cyberlibel, in a dubious court decision that many believe was politically motivated.

Ressa has been a dogged and long-time critic of President Rodrigo Duterte, and of his supporters. The relationship between Ressa, as a journalist, and Duterte, as a political figure, dates back to the 1980s, but after Duterte’s election in 2016, Rappler ran a series of stories about his active online 'troll army' and the fake news stories they were circulating, and earned the ire of the Duterte administration. 

In the lead-up to the Day of the Imprisoned Writer, we’ll present the indomitable Ressa in conversation with Fatima Measham, with an introduction by PEN Sydney president Mark Isaacs. Ressa will discuss technology’s impact on democracy and the implications of her own case for freedom of speech today.

Presented in partnership with PEN Sydney, Melbourne and Perth and the Copyright Agency. Help support PEN's campaigns to defend persecuted and imprisoned writers.

Maria Ressa: Freedom and Fakery in the Philippines Today


Portrait of Maria Ressa

Maria Ressa

The CEO and Executive Editor of, Maria is one of the founders of the six-year-old company, one of the leading online news organisations in the Philippines.

Maria has been honored around the world for her courageous and bold work in fighting disinformation, 'fake news' and attempts to silence the free press. In 2018, she was named Time magazine's 'Person of the Year' and won the prestigious Golden Pen of Freedom Award from the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-INFRA), the Knight International Journalism Award of the International Center for Journalists, the Gwen Ifill Press Freedom Award of the Committee to Protect Journalists, the Journalist of Courage and Impact Award of East-West Center, and the IX International Press Freedom Award of University of Málaga and UNESCO, among others.

Portrait of Fatima Measham

Fatima Measham

Fatima Measham is a writer and speaker living west of the Werribee River on Wadawurrung country. Her recent work focuses on nature, conservation, and the tensions inherent in our claims of love for animals. She is also a conservation volunteer.

She was formerly a consulting editor, columnist and podcast producer for Eureka Street, where she focused on issues of social justice, identity and politics. Her work has appeared in Meanjin, the Guardian, America magazine and other publications. She grew up on the traditional land of the Higaonon in the Philippine south.

Portrait of Mark Isaacs

Mark Isaacs

Mark Isaacs is a writer, a researcher, a photographer and a community worker.

Mark is president of PEN Sydney, an affiliate of PEN International, a worldwide association of writers which defends freedom of expression and campaigns on behalf of writers who have been silenced by persecution or imprisonment. He is currently studying for a Doctor of Philosophy at the University of Technology, Sydney. His research will focus on human migration in the Asia-Pacific region.


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