The Norwegian Nobel Committee's decision to award the Peace prize to two journalists comes as countries around the world roll back the rights of reporters.
Media watchdog Reporters Without Borders, themselves considered a contender for the prize, said in its most recent Press Freedom Index that journalism "is totally blocked or seriously impeded in 73 countries and constrained in 59 others."
Had China allowed free press, the world would have known about the coronavirus outbreak far earlier and the virus may not have been allowed to spiral into a global pandemic, the organization told CNN last year.
"Freedom of expression and freedom of information help to ensure an informed public," Reiss-Andersen said during Friday's ceremony. "These rights are crucial prerequisites for democracy and protect against war and conflict."
The crackdown on journalistic freedom is closely felt at both Rappler and Novaya Gazeta where the Nobel Peace Prize winners work. Reacting to his win, Dmitry Muratov said the prize is a testament to the newspaper's dedication to free speech and his colleagues who have died fighting for it, Russian state media TASS reported.
"I worked, I was busy. They called me from the Nobel Committee, but I didn't pick up the phone. I didn't even have time to read the entire text," he told TASS. "I'll tell you this: this is not my merit. This is Novaya Gazeta. These are those who died defending the right of people to freedom of speech."
Anna Politkovskaya, once a leading voice in Russia reporting on the Chechnya war for Novaya Gazeta, was killed 15 years ago on Thursday.
"I am in shock," Ressa said during a live broadcast by Rappler on Friday, according to Reuters.
On Thursday, a day before she won the prize, Ressa spoke to CNN about next year's Philippine elections. "I have covered this country since 1986, I've never been the news. But the only reason I've become the news is because I refuse to be stamped down, I refuse to stop doing my job the way I should," she said.