Meet the panel of judges

Maria Ressa is the CEO and Executive Editor of Rappler, a social news network which uses a hearts and minds approach to news through a unique mood navigator. Rappler combines the best of professional journalism with citizen journalism and crowdsourcing. Ms. Ressa has been a journalist in Asia for nearly 30 years, most of them as CNN’s bureau chief in Manila (1987-1995) then Jakarta (1995-2005). She was CNN’s lead investigative reporter focusing on terrorism in Southeast Asia and wrote “Seeds of Terror: An Eyewitness Account of al-Qaeda’s Newest Center of Operations in Southeast Asia” (Free Press, 2003). In 2005, she took the helm of ABS-CBN News and Current affairs, for six years determining strategic direction and managing more than 1,000 journalists for the largest multi-platform news operation in the Philippines. Her work aimed to redefine journalism by combining traditional broadcast, new media and mobile phone technology for social change. She taught courses in Politics and the Press in Southeast Asia for her alma mater, Princeton University and in broadcast journalism for the University of the Philippines.

Catherine Fiankan-Bokonga is a TV, radio and print journalist specialized in African politics and women issues, and has been a correspondent in Geneva since 1999. She is also a presenter and producer of television news reports. She has covered many armed conflicts in the field in Africa (Mali, Côte d’Ivoire, Liberia, Democratic Republic of Congo) and has interviewed numerous African heads of state. In collaboration with the Swiss Foundation Media Action International (MAI), she hosted from 2002 to 2005, numerous seminars with West African journalists to sensitize them to the duty of non-partisan information in case of conflict. The work has been praised in a report of the Secretary General of the Organization of the United Nations. She has been a jury member for international photography and film festivals. She is a regular speaker and moderator at high profile conferences on African security, humanitarian relief, healthcare and women’s issues. She is a member of the Board of the Swiss Press Club and the Association of Accredited Correspondents to the United Nations (ACANU). She is the former Vice President of the Foreign Press Association of Switzerland and Lichtenstein (APES).

Sami Zeidan is an award winning Senior Presenter with Al Jazeera English since 2005. He was chosen to present the channel’s first live words when AJE launched on November 15th, 2006. Sami joined Al Jazeera after presenting with a number of the world’s leading broadcasters including CNN, CNBC and NBC. As a news anchor and talk show presenter Sami has interviewed a wide range of legendary world leaders, including South African President Nelson Mandela and Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, just to mention a few. Sami's engaging interviewing style earned him wide recognition and he has been selected to host interviews for the network’s talk show Talk To Al Jazeera. As a reporter Sami has covered several seats of power including the United Nations, the White House and the European Commission, as well as conflict zones stretching from Syria to Korea.

Sam Jones has been with the Guardian for 15 years, working as a reporter and editor and covering everything from politics and religious affairs to the 2012 Olympic Games in London. He is currently on a two-year secondment to the global development desk as global development correspondent. In that time, he has reported on the aftermath of the Nepal earthquake (2015) and the humanitarian crisis in South Sudan (2014 and 2015), investigated the impact of the millennium development goals in Ghana (2015), written about the struggles of Syrian refugees in Jordan (2015) and also reported from Peru, Bolivia, Mexico, Malawi, Haiti, Cambodia and Tanzania.

Pedro Brieger is a journalist and sociologist. He is the director of NODAL (, the first website dedicated exclusively to Latin American and Caribbean news. He has worked for the main print media, TV and radio networks in Argentina and received twice the most important TV award as the best journalist of the year, being nowadays one of the analysts of the CNN in Spanish. He also teaches “Sociology of the Middle East” at Buenos Aires University (UBA) and is author of several books on international affairs.