BEVERLY HILLS, CA — International journalists have converged to Los Angeles for LA Press Freedom Week, raising awareness on the challenges journalists face all over the world.
Among those giving some insights — Filipino-American Maria Ressa, chief executive officer of news site Rappler, who joined a discussion on Press Freedom and Elections – moderated by Canal plus journalist Ramzi Malouki.
As an outspoken critic of President Rodrigo Duterte, Ressa’s cyber libel arrest was regarded by the international community as a politically motivated act by the Philippine government.
“It is pulling together a global magnifying glass, on the Philippines, I think its time to look at the Philippines on its own. We’ve been on the forefront of this fight for press freedom before American networks and American news organizations had to deal with it in 2016 we dealt with the weaponization of social media and we’ve moved much faster in terms of weaponization of the law against journalists.
The 2018 Time Person of the Year, along with three other international journalists shared their experiences with government pressure, online harassment, and social media’s role in spreading misinformation, especially during election cycles.
“The fight of Maria, the struggle also would be a great way to explain in many countries, press is muzzled, press is completely shut off sometimes the internet is shut off especially during elections for example in Benais where they have a law that actually just kills the internet in an election, and I think Maria is the best example of giving us an insight, an immersive insight of how to fight the regime when they don’t let you do your work as a journalist,” said Ramzi Malouki.
These panelists also discussed some governments’ hostility towards filmmakers who shed light on issues plaguing a country.
Documentary filmmaker Ramona S. Diaz said she has experienced Imelda Marcos suing her over her 2003 documentary on the former first lady.
“Especially today in the world we’re living in, we really have to figure out how, what truth is and what not true, and thats very difficult to figure out sometimes and I think press freedom is where it starts.”
Several more discussions are scheduled throughout the week, hosted by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association and the Los Angeles Times.
“What matters is deep in your heart you did what you were supposed to do to write the truth…”