Global media interest in anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela’s health took a sharp dip in July, despite it being his 95th birthday. This is according to the second part of research conducted by Media Tenor about the coverage of his hospitalisation. The Media Online reports.
South Africa’s first democratically elected president will today [23July ) spend his 45th day in hospital. While President Jacob Zuma’s office says he is improving, his condition in the Heart Medi-Clinic in Pretoria remains critical. Yet, the international media seems to have moved on.
By July, when the world celebrates Mandela Day on 18 July, most media had lost interest, with the awareness threshold dropping to below one percent in Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Italy, Spain, Australia and China.
Awareness was under 1.5 percent in the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States.
In South Africa, the awareness threshold was between five and six percent, while France’s media awareness was just over 1.5 percent.
“In what should be the most commemorative month for Nelson Mandela, most media lost interest in reporting on the former statesman’s health. Only a few countries, namely Canada and the U.K., were still interested in keeping news reports going in this regard,” according to the Media Tenor research report, titled “Media legacy of an icon and his family”.
These research is based on an analysis of 1 010 reports in 26 global TV news broadcasts across 12 countries.
Media Tenor SA senior researcher Stephano Radaelli said: “We expected local media to keep focusing on the former statesman going into July given that this has always been a topical month for him.
“In addition, our research suggests that South Africans would feel that the news in the past two months has only been focusing on Nelson Mandela and his family…
“We also believe that many people in some parts of Europe are wondering what happened to Nelson Mandela given that the last news they would remember hearing is that his health was critical.”
As soon as information on Mandela’s health became staid, many countries stopped reporting on his condition.
While international media seemed to lose some interest, the research also showed that negative global reporting on Mandela — mainly focusing on his critical condition — became more positive, instead focusing on his legacy as an anti-apartheid icon.
“Most countries still reporting on Nelson Mandela by July focused less on his state of health and more on his personality and reputation. This has ensured a recovery in media tone for most countries,” the report stated.
While the international media understandably gave more coverage to the ousting of Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi, it did pay more attention to the Mandela family squabbles than news related to the G8 leaders, the research showed.
IMAGE: Portrait of Mandela comprising words from his speeches. From a T-shirt by African Cream Music.