It was 9 P.M., and Maria Ressa, the Nobel Peace Prize-winning journalist, was pacing back and forth in the newsroom of Rappler, the news site she co-founded a decade ago. The polls in the Philippines had closed two hours earlier, and about half the votes had been counted. Ferdinand Marcos, Jr., the son and namesake of the former Philippine dictator, was leading by a margin so wide it was clear he would soon be President.
Across the newsroom, the reality was sinking in. Rappler journalists, most of them in their twenties, had reported on the campaign with courage and verve, posting videos, stories, and updates on their site and on multiple social-media platforms. Most important, Rappler had helped launch an innovative network of journalists, fact checkers, lawyers, activists, and academics to identify, track, and expose disinformation to voters. The outcome of the election would determine the future of Philippine democracy, and Rappler’s, too.