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Could Global Media Have Done More To Free Nelson Mandela?

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by Jon Friedman
December 8, 2013 2:03 PM
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Nelson Mandela

As I watched the outpouring of respect and admiration for the late Nelson Mandela, who died Thursday at 95 after a long illness, I can't help but wonder about the global media.

Could journalists all over the world have done more to assist Mandela while he was imprisoned for 27 years?

Let me repeat the crucial fact: Mandela was in prison for TWENTY-SEVEN years. Where were the justic-seeking media during most of this time? 

It seems inconceivable that the worldwide media could choose to ignore or overlook his plight. 

Journalists can move mountains when they put their minds to a task. Journalists contributed mightily to getting Americans to understand the futility of the Vietnam War. n the 1970s, a decade later, they doggedly pursued the story of the Watergate scandal, led by the Washington Post's Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein. In both cases, the world was well informed about wrongdoing.

It may seem unfair to pin blame on journalists because they didn't do more.My point is to ask: Could they have done more? In recent years, we've seen the media rally around the causes of dissidents in such countries as China. Why didn't they move more decisively in Mandela's case?

If anything, it's like that the media will ever again the situation of a political activist forced to spend so much time in prison. We've seen journalists address the saga of the Russian rock stars who were imprisoned for their political expressions.

Is that progress? Sure. It's a little late to help Nelson Mandela but at least the media's spirit is moving in the right direction.

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