2021 Nobel Peace Prize co-winners Mark Thompson, former New York Times chief executive and prominent Philippines reporter Maria Ressa, have offered new ideas on how to preserve independent journalism.
The two honorees were the first journalists in 80 years to be awarded the cherished Peace Prize. As they wrote with pride in the Times December 10, that honor was awarded “not to a politician, diplomat, or campaigner as it had been in recent years, but to us.”
“Our aim,” they added, “has always been to pursue the truth wherever it might lead and to report the facts, not just what the powerful wanted the public to hear.”
In their joint column, Ressa and Thompson announced: “That is why the two of us have just agreed to jointly chair a new multilateral fund to support independent journalism worldwide.
“We both know from our different vantage points — Maria on the front line of the battle for free media in Manila, and Mark as a past leader of two of the world’s global news providers, the New York Times and the BBC — what a difference great journalism can make both to the individual lives of readers and viewers and to the civic health of a society.”
The new fund, Thompson and Ressa explained, will be called the International Fund for Public Interest Media. It will be independent of its donors (governments, foundations, and private companies worldwide).
“It’s encouraging,” the two noted journalists add, “that the United States has pledged up to $30 million toward the Fund and the leaders of several other nations have already announced they will support it.”
At the recent Glasgow summit of world leaders, according to the two 2021 Nobel Prize co-winners, heads of state from around the world emphasized the importance of a free press for democracies everywhere.
“They’re quite right,” according to Ressa and Thompson. “Without access to trustworthy independent news, populations are left in the dark, governments go corrupt, and democratic institutions soon become a sham.
“But it will take more than speeches, or indeed Nobel Prizes, to save independent journalism. It will take a plan and a more equal partnership between practitioners and their supporters in the prosperous North. It will take a renewed sense of mission. It will also take hard cash.”
And, I would add, experienced and proven producers of accurate, objective, news and information at the helm of the IFPIM, the new International Fund for Public Interest Media.
As a 36-year veteran of the Voice of America (VOA), Alan Heil traveled to more than 40 countries a foreign correspondent in the Middle East, and later as director of News and Current Affairs, deputy director of programs, and deputy director of the nation’s largest publicly-funded overseas multimedia network. Today, VOA reaches more than 275 million people around the world each week via radio, television and online media. Read More