Students Praise Mandela, Rap Press Reports

Crowd takes shelter in rain at Nelson Mandela's public memorial in Johannesburg, South Africa on Tuesday, December 10, 2013. )(CNN)
Crowd takes shelter in rain at Nelson Mandela’s public memorial in Johannesburg, South Africa on Tuesday, December 10, 2013. )(CNN)

By Malia Moses
BU News Service

In the midst of studying for exams and rushing to finish final projects, some Boston University students are taking a minute to reflect on the life and accomplishments of the late Nelson Mandela, and to criticize press coverage.

Cara Liebman, a graduating senior in the College of Arts and Sciences, hopes that coverage of the death of Mandela will encourage her peers to learn more about the revered leader.

“I think he was really influential, but I don’t think that people in our generation really understand the details or the extent as to why,” Liebman said with a shrug.  “But maybe that will change.”

Some students who have taken an interest in the reports about Mandela’s life and death are not thrilled with some of the coverage.

“I think it’s cruddy that news outlets are focusing on Obama shaking hands with Raul Castro,” said Brian Latimer, a journalism student in the College of Communications, about photos showing President Barack Obama shaking hands with Cuban President Raul Castro during a national memorial service for Mandela on Tuesday.

Some press accounts noted the gesture because there has been conflict between the countries for decades.  “It’s disrespectful to Mandela’s name and they shouldn’t be turning this great man’s death into a political story.  I get that journalists want to report on everything, but there’s lack of respect here, ” said Latimer.

The coverage of the national memorial service also strayed from focus on Mandela’s legacy with reports on a “selfie” photo featuring Obama, Denmark’s Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt and Britain’s David Cameron, as well as a controversy about a sign language interpreter who has been labeled a fake by the Deaf Federation of South Africa.

“Mandela was such an amazing person and so influential in regards to human rights,” said Sarah Dennison, a Deaf Studies Minor in the College of Arts and Sciences.  “I can’t believe a fake interpreter was broadcast worldwide. The deaf community should be outraged.  I mean, completely limiting an entire group of people is exactly what Mandela fought against.”

“I just hope the media will focus on the legacy that Nelson Mandela has left behind and refrain from making the celebration of his life about irrelevant political nonsense,” said Annie Francis, a Sargent College student.

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