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Maria Ressa on press freedom, dictators, social media, and the day George Clooney made her coffee

The biggest battle for our generation is the battle for truth and as journalists, we must continue to fight for it, said Rappler founder and press freedom fighter Maria Ressa.

Maria Ressa at the May 17 club lunch. Photo: Sarah Graham/FCC Maria Ressa at the May 17 club lunch. Photo: Sarah Graham/FCC

Appearing at the FCC on a travel bond amid several pending court actions in the Philippines, the journalist at the centre of a harassment campaign directed by President Rodrigo Duterte discussed her country’s “descent into tyranny” but admitted that the pressure on her and her reporters “has made us stronger”.

During the lively May 17 guest appearance, Ressa gave her views on why so many populist leaders were being elected, in part blaming the rise of the internet and social media and their role in the spread of disinformation.

She also talked about the pressure that comes with being an international symbol of the fight for press freedom, which sees her traveling the world to meet global leaders and human rights advocates. In one anecdote, Ressa recalled a recent meeting with leading human rights lawyer, Amal Clooney, and her actor husband George, who made the two women Nespresso – for which the actor is global brand ambassador – as they discussed human rights issues.

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