Times Square’s iconic New Year’s Eve celebration spotlights Maria Ressa, journalists & press freedom

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The iconic New Year’s Eve Ball Drop at Times Square in New York City is all set to give the spotlight to Maria Ressa and leading journalists in a unique setting to celebrate press freedom.

Ressa, one of the four featured international journalists in the collective recognition of the 2018 TIME Person of the Year for “Guardians in the War on Truth,” joins 10 other journalists representing various world news organizations on the Times Square stage before midnight of December 31, 2018 to push the button that signals the 60-second countdown to the lowering of the Times Square New Year’s Eve Ball and welcome 2019.

The Committee to Project Journalists (CPJ) represented by Executive Director Joel Simon, as the official charity honoree of the 2018 Times Square New Year’s Eve event, will lead the 11 journalists including TIME Editor and CEO Edward Felsenthal, Karen Attiah of The Washington Post, Rebecca Blumenstein of The New York Times, Alisyn Camerota of CNN New Day, Vladimir Duthiers of CBSN and CBS News, Lester Holt of NBC Nightly News, Matt Murray of The Wall Street Journal, Martha Raddatz of ABC News, Jon Scott of Fox Report Weekend, Karen Toulon of Bloomberg News, and Maria Ressa, Chief Executive Officer and Executive Editor of Rappler.

The New Year’s Eve campaign #CelebratePressFreedom also features the Filipino journalist in a social media video calling for people to build communities to safeguard democracy and its first line of defense – journalism.

The embattled Rappler chief was previously awarded the 2018 Gwen Ifill Press Freedom Award by the CPJ for remaining steadfast to her principles of journalism despite facing challenges to press freedom.

“In one of the world’s most famous public squares, it is fitting to celebrate free press and free speech as we reflect on where we’ve been during the past year and what it is we value most as a society,” said Tim Tompkins, president of the Times Square Alliance, the event organizer.

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists annual report, at least 251 journalists were imprisoned, 60 missing, and 53 killed in 2018.

Maria Ressa is in New York to grace the Times Square annual event that usually features entertainment personalities and high-profile figures, in the New Year’s Eve unique tribute to recognize journalism and free speech.

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