Praise for a global leg­end

Out­pour­ing of emo­tion across Twit­ter, non-stop Man­dela cov­er­age

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NELSON MANDELA 1918-2013 -

HONG KONG: Very few peo­ple be­come global icons whose pass­ing can dom­i­nate all of the world’s front pages, trig­ger non- stop TV cov­er­age and in­vite wor­ship­ful plau­dits from across the me­dia land­scape. Nel­son Man­dela was one.

The 95-year-old’s death also gen­er­ated an out­pour­ing of emo­tion across Twit­ter and other so­cial me­dia, demon­strat­ing a fit­ting sense of global unity in praise for the anti- apartheid hero whose strug­gle for equal­ity in­spired bil­lions.

Most South African news­pa­pers pub­lished their head­lines in black, as a sign of mourn­ing for Madiba.

Around the globe, news chan­nels of­fered rolling cov­er­age while many news­pa­pers and weekly mag­a­zines de­ployed the kind of sou­venir front pages that would usu­ally greet the death of a monarch or na­tional hero.

The cover of The New Yorker fea­tured the im­age of a young Man­dela rais­ing his fist with typ­i­cal de­fi­ance and dig­nity, while Time mag­a­zine chose a more re­cent photo with the cap­tion: “Pro­tester. Pris­oner. Peace­maker.”

“The alchemy of char­ac­ter and events made of Man­dela a pe­cu­liarly unspot­ted fig­ure,” wrote Bri­tain’s The Guardian in an ed­i­to­rial.

“Few could deny a cer­tain sweet­ness in his per­son­al­ity, and a large­ness of mind that had room for all.”

Bri­tain’s Daily Mail de­scribed Man­dela as a “colos­sus” and “a gi­ant who taught the world the mean­ing of for­give­ness”, join­ing other Bri­tish news­pa­pers for whom news of Man­dela’s death broke just in time for front- page re­designs.

The online edi­tion of Ger­many’s Der Spiegel hailed Man­dela as “one of the great­est fight­ers against op­pres­sion”, while Ber­lin daily Tagge­spiegel car­ried “Death of a leg­end” as its head­line.

In France, sports news­pa­per L’Equipe noted Man­dela’s in­flu­ence and ex­am­ple on ath­letes around the world, given how he used sport as a force for na­tional rec­on­cil­i­a­tion at the 1995 Rugby World Cup.

“A Na­tion’s Healer is Dead,” said the Wash­ing­ton Post, while The Wall Street Jour­nal tweeted a pre­view of its Fri­day front page in the US, dom­i­nated by news of Man­dela’s death.

The Fi­nan­cial Times noted of the first demo­crat­i­cally elected leader of South Africa: “Ar­guably a saint, (Man­dela) was def­i­nitely a politi­cian who un­der­stood power.”

For many, Man­dela’s death was very much a so­cial me­dia event with Twit­ter and Face­book ablaze with shared sto­ries, re­flec­tions and com­ments that took the story into a more per­sonal do­main.

“I learnt of the news on Twit­ter and shared it on Face- book. It’s a nor­mal rou­tine for peo­ple in this day and age,” said Yuen Chan, lec­turer at the School of Jour­nal­ism and Com­mu­ni­ca­tion at The Chi­nese Univer­sity of Hong Kong.

News of Man­dela’s death broke too late for many of Asia’s news­pa­pers to carry it in their print edi­tions, but Hong Kong’s South China Morn­ing Post echoed oth­ers in giv­ing the news full cov­er­age on its web­site.

When it came to ma­jor news events of this mag­ni­tude “there is some­thing about hav­ing that front page in your hand, hold­ing some­thing phys­i­cal”, Yuen said.

“But I’m not sure if that re­ally ap­plies to young peo­ple, whether they have that at­tach­ment to it.”

Re­gard­less of the for­mat, Man­dela’s legacy struck a uni­ver­sal chord, she said, prompt­ing a global me­dia re­sponse of rare scale.

The Onion, a US pur­veyor of mock news, laced its reg­u­lar shots of satire with re­gret at the hero’s pass­ing.

“Nel­son Man­dela Be­comes First Politi­cian To Be Missed,” it head­lined. – Sapa-AFP

PIC­TURE: AP

PEACE­MAKER: News­pa­pers with pic­tures of Nel­son Man­dela on the front page on sale at a news agent in Lon­don yes­ter­day. As word of Man­dela’s death spread, cur­rent and for­mer pres­i­dents, ath­letes and en­ter­tain­ers, and peo­ple around the world spoke about the life and legacy of the for­mer leader.

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