Nobel Prize Lecture 2021

Maria Ressa is delivering her Nobel Prize Lecture and making an emphatic gesture.

Image credit: Rappler

Maria Ressa, in her 2021 Nobel Peace Prize lecture, states it bluntly and succinctly: “Without facts, you can’t have truth. Without truth, you can’t have trust. Without trust, we have no shared reality, no democracy.” Ressa has a rare ability to acknowledge and expose the horrors of the world and still inspire optimism; her address is a call to action, a call to conscience. We’ve excerpted it for you here. You can also read a transcript/translation of her complete speech on these sites: (in English or Filipino) or (in English, Russian, or Norwegian). 

Watch it here.


1. Maria Ressa asserts that “an invisible atom bomb has exploded in our information ecosystem” (5:12). What does she mean by that statement? Why might she have chosen that particular metaphor? How effectively does the metaphor introduce the proposal that follows it? Explain your reasoning. 

2. Ressa’s Nobel lecture was spoken before a relatively small live audience in Oslo, Norway; she was certainly aware, however, that her address would reach millions more people around the globe. For example, she refers to “the problem we all face” (1:55); certainly, given the full context of her remarks, the “we” of her statement does not simply apply to the people in that room. Identify other elements of her speech that demonstrate an awareness of a global audience. Do you think her strategies for inclusion of a global audience are effective? Why or why not? Explain your response. 

3. LET’S TALK. According to Ressa’s assertion, “Facebook is the world’s largest distributor of news.” But how good is that news? As she notes, “lies laced with hate and anger spread faster and further than facts.” There are many proposals out there—Ressa’s included—for what governments should do and what tech companies must do in order for actions to be taken at the highest levels. But what about us, the users and consumers of Facebook and other social media? Thinking about your own use of social media, are there any modifications to your habits that you might want to make after hearing Ressa’s address? Discuss your responses with a few classmates. What ideas or plans do you hold in common? In what ways do your ideas differ? 

4. AND NOW WRITE. Ressa poses the question: “What are you willing to sacrifice for the truth?” To whom is she directing the question? Other journalists? Government leaders? Influential people everywhere? Or is she hoping that everyone will be willing to address the question? Do you think she is asking you? Is it a question you’re willing to answer? Write a letter to Ressa that either responds to her question or explains why you might not consider it relevant to you. Feel free to include any additional comments or information you might want her to know. 

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