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Maria Ressa's 'AMA' Session Went From Funny To Serious Real Quick
Rappler's head honcho takes on Reddit
by Andrei Medina | Jan 25, 2018
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Rappler CEO Maria Ressa might be all business when it comes to running the day-to-day operations of her digital news site but she just proved that she was also willing to take time off from her busy schedule to engage the netizens (aka eager lurkers) of social media platform Reddit.

In Reddit’s “Ask Me Anything” section, Ressa was game in answering a barrage of questions that ranged from various topics such as her life as a journalist, her hobbies, and other trivial matters.

We compiled some of the best Q&As during this session, which is made up of the most serious and the silliest queries ever (classic, Reddit). Check out her profound (and surprisingly hilarious) replies to the Pinoy Redditor community below:


1) Lessons as a journalist

Q: Can you share your most memorable experience from your CNN days and would you consider going back?

A: Warzones teach you clarity of thought—of the story, of your safety. You see the best and the worst of human nature. I loved India, Pakistan, East Timor, of course, Indonesia and Southeast Asia. I learned so much, but more than anything, I learned to control myself, to live according to my values, even when the rules disappear. I loved interviews with world leaders who taught me how to think about problems and how their decisions rippled through society. Lee Kuan Yew, Bill Clinton, Benazir Bhutto. so many more. My life as a reporter, I know, is behind me. My goal is to help build the news organization of the future today, to help young journalists find the path the way my mentors helped me.

2) She has a geeky side, too
Q: Hello! Para light naman—you mentioned that you like sci fi. So, Star Wars or Star Trek?

A: Star Trek. I grew up on Star Trek. I always wanted to be a combination of Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock—emotion and instinct combined with logic and clarity of thought.

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3) Her thoughts on Mark Zuckerberg
Q: What was your impression of the man behind Facebook?

A: Brilliant. Gifted. In a span of minutes, he spoke expertly about AI, big data, machine learning, women's rights (in response to a female founder of an NGO in India). I was the only journalist there, and I felt they were nervous I would act as a journalist—I was there as a founder, and when it was my turn, I told him about how FB was our public space. It was great fun—but I had little time to make him understand FB's impact on democracy

4) The undying favorite Filipino food question
Q: Dahil wala pang nagtatanong: Adobo or sinigang?

A: Sinigang!

5) How does one like Maria Ressa react to Rappler’s toxic comments section?
Q: Do you read the comment sections of Rappler's Facebook page yourself? If so, how do you react to both good and vitriolic feedback?

A: A lot of us read the comments, but starting 2016, we saw a subliminal reaction to anger and hate speech...lack of rational arguments...replaced by visceral attacks. At some point, we began to treat much of it as data points, gather them so we can begin to understand exactly what's going on. That's why we had the data for our propaganda series—which after more than a year is now big data.

6) The hate is strong in this one
Q: What was the funniest bit of hate mail you've received in all of these years?

A: Hmmm, this one: something about how I should be a sperm and my mother should've swallowed.

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7) On handling fake news
Q: How do you think we should handle fake news issue? And have you been receiving death threats by being critical of the current admin?

A: I've written a lot about this. I think it's a very old playbook: Russian disinformation was turned against its own citizens, and we've now seen a resurgence of the strategy globally. If you look at freedomhouse.org, their Nov study showed that in 30 of 65 countries, democracy was rolled back because of cheap armies on social media. This combination of hate directed at the fracture lines of society is a scorched earth policy. The fact that it's happening in my country makes me extremely worried about our next generation. Yes on the death threats...hoping FB draws the line between free speech and inciting to hate and violence.

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8) Another one of those silly food questions
Q: Papaya or sayote for tinola?

A: Sayote. I don't think I've ever had it with papaya.

9) Here’s proof that she’s not biased
Q: What do you think is/are the most positive thing/s that has happened under Duterte administration?

A: The economy remains robust. More people are engaged with governance.

10) And her hobbies are...
Q: What's your favorite thing to do/hobby on your downtime to relax?

A: Eat. Netflix. Movies. Read. Gym (although I haven't had time to do that a lot recently). Great meals with great conversations.

11) She’s also apparently interested in video games, but just doesn’t have the time
Q: What is your favorite video game?

A: I'm so sorry. The last time I really played games avidly was when Pac-man and Space Invaders, i.e. high school. I did do Sim City for an hour. I think real life as a reporter is a game in slow motion. And while I keep wanting to do MMORPG, I just can't find the time.

12) A word of advice
Q: If you have a message to the Filipino youth, what would it be?

A: Hold the line. Build the future. You have a unique chance to create, question everything, and make informed decisions.

 

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