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World media in thrall as Mandela passes away

GMT 12:27 2013 Friday ,06 December

Arab Today, arab today World media in thrall as Mandela passes away

Kenyan man looks at front page of Daily Nation newspaper
Johannesburg - Arab Today

Kenyan man looks at front page of Daily Nation newspaper 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 in South Africa inspired billions.
In his home country, most newspapers published their headlines in black, in a reflection of the deep sense of loss brought by the death of "Madiba", a father figure to millions of South Africans.
"The World Weeps," said the national daily The Star.
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."
Mandela spent 27 years in jail for his battle against white-supremacist rule, before being elected in South Africa's first all-race elections in 1994 and reconciling with his former oppressors.
His death had long been expected, coming after a spate of hospitalisations with lung infections and three months of intensive care at home. But the announcement sent a shockwave around the world nonetheless.
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.
Spain's leading daily El Pais dedicated its first 13 pages to the story, leading with "The man who defeated racism" on its front page above a photo of him with his closed fist raised to his forehead.
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.
While paying fulsome tribute, Sweden's Dagens Nyheter sounded a note of criticism in an editorial: "It would have been desirable that Mandela had spoken about the abuses in neighbouring Zimbabwe and South Africa's clumsy handling of the problems with (Robert) Mugabe.?
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 learned of the news on Twitter and shared it on Facebook. 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 in their print editions. But Hong Kong's South China Morning Post and others splashed the news across their websites.
When it comes to major news events of this magnitude "there is something about having that front page in your hand, holding something physical", Chan 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 South African hero's passing. Its headline said: "Nelson Mandela Becomes First Politician To Be Missed."
Source: AFP

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