The 100 Most Influential People of 2020
David Degner for TIME
By Maria Ressa
September 22, 2020 9:34 PM EDT

Shine the light.

That’s the mission of journalism, but it has a personal cost in countries around the world that want to keep the darkness, confusion and fear so power can consolidate power.

As other news groups in Egypt self-censor, Mada Masr, under chief editor Lina Attalah, constantly makes the choice to do stories they know will bring “good trouble”—and it has. After it reported embarrassing news about the son of President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi, its office was raided; its journalists intimidated, arrested, detained—Lina, most recently, outside the prison where another journalist was confined. Authorities blocked Mada Masr’s site, but it continues publishing.

Lina is almost stoic when asked about the courage that takes, often steering the conversation away from her to the commitment of her team. When you live like this, each day requires a temperature check and a mental calculation. Which story do you tackle? How far can you go?

You won’t know you’ve gone too far until you do, like when Lina and her team were arrested, handcuffed together in the police truck. They held each other’s hands as they mentally grappled with the impact on their lives. They reminded each other, “We are here by choice.”

Ressa is an investigative journalist and co-founder of Rappler

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