Nelson Mandela has been named the National Press Club’s Newsmaker of the Year for 2013.
National Press Club Chairperson, Jos Charle says both in terms of impact and media coverage Nelson Mandela dominated the news in 2013.
“We are not commemorating his death but celebrating the life of a world icon and legend, as well as his role as an international statesman.
“Nelson Mandela’s death riveted the attention of the world for 10 days. It consumed South Africans – and much of the world – as the country pulled out all stops to bury the father of the South African nation with military precision and ancient Xhosa customs.
“The world’s news media – television, radio and print media – extensively reported on Nelson Mandela’s life and his role in South Africa’s liberation struggle for weeks following his death.
“One hour after the announcement of his death, two million tweets were generated with over six million tweets recorded on 5 December, the day of his death. The hash tags #RIPNelsonMandela, #Madiba and #RIPMandela were the top three topics on the social network on that morning – at one stage 95 000 tweets per minute – more than 13 million over a month.
“The Nelson Mandela Facebook page gathered over 2,2 million likes and several posts, including tributes from the Nelson Mandela Foundation.
“Within minutes of the announcement, broadcast internationally, crowds of all hues began flocking to the former president’s home where they prayed, sang and laid flowers in front of the world’s media.
“Countries from the US to New Zealand joined South Africa in lowering their flags to half-mast and 91 heads of state attended the funeral, with 4 500 journalists from all over the world covering the funeral. South African broadcast houses ran only “Madiba” programmes for more than ten days.
“Add to this the fact that for 86 days last year the world’s media camped outside the Medi-Clinic Heart hospital in Pretoria where Mandela had been admitted for a recurring lung infection, and it becomes clear that he generated huge media interest – both nationally and internationally.”
Charle says on 11 February – the date on which he was released from Victor Verster Prison – Mandela will become the first non-Briton to be honoured with a memorial service at Westminster Abbey – the iconic venue that has been the coronation church for every British monarch since 1066 and the burial place of 17 royals.
“The best known black man in the world and probably the most photographed man in the world certainly leaves behind a living legacy – truly a man for all seasons.”
Stalwart journalist Jerry Scuitema sums it up brilliantly, “in my half century as a newsman I never experienced, or even witnessed such a puzzling media treatment as that of the passing of Nelson Mandela.
“It was mysteriously odd that the media could pay so much attention to the passing of one man. Channel after channel, column after column, blog after blog, post after post, tweet after tweet, could speak of nothing else. The stark reality was that much more than one man had died – what he represented was gone for all time.”
Charle says the award is made on the grounds of impact, news value and media attention in electronic, print, online and social media.
The club is synonymous with the Newsmaker of the Year award. Over the years the club has recognised and awarded many newsmakers. The club has named Nelson Mandela its newsmaker before. Other previous recipients include President Jacob Zuma, former presidents FW de Klerk, and Thabo Mbeki. Other newsmakers include Hollywood star Charlize Theron, Zachie Achmat and the Treatment Action Campaign, the late Hansie Cronj� and various other sporting personalities, DA Leader Helen Zille, ESKOM and Cope and FIFA’s Sepp Blatter and Danny Jordaan also received the award in recent years. Other recipients were Thuli Madonsela and Julius Malema. Last year the award went to the South African rhino.
The date of the Newsmaker award function will be announced soon.
The winner of the National Press Club-North-West University Journalist of the Year competition will also be announced at the function.