South Africa: Newsroom drama over coverage of Mandela's death continues to make headlines

Cape Town, South Africa (PANA) – The former editor of the  Cape Times newspaper who was fired for the way she handled coverage of Nelson Mandela’s death in 2013, on Thursday indicated that she is considering suing her former employee, just two days after it settled the case out of court.

Alide Dasnois is considering suing Independent Media – the holding company – for issuing a statement claiming that her acceptance of a settlement “vindicated it”. Dasnois found herself in the centre of a storm late on the evening of 5 December, 2013, when the Office of the Presidency confirmed that the global statesman had died at his Johannesburg home.

The announcement came after the newspapers deadline and a decision was taken to add a wrap-around to pay tribute to the liberation hero.

Reflecting on the drama that played out that night, senior Cape Town journalist Tony Weaver described the situation as “controlled chaos”. While the national anthem was being played on radio stations throughout the land, the staff tried to “produce the goods”.

“There was no time to change the front page, our deadlines are early, our computers slow and cantankerous. A plan made months ago for exactly this scenario was to produce a wraparound, a broadsheet double page that literally wraps around the newspaper, preserving the already written, edited, printed copy in the existing Cape Times. The wraparound is a time-honoured tradition on the great newspapers of the world to mark events that change history. Special edition wraparounds are artifacts that are treasured, kept, framed and hung in museums, on the walls of presidents, changing hands for enormous prices years down the line.”

He said decisions made instantly, like extending the printers’ deadline to 2am and doubling the print-run. “We got the paper off screen and down to the printers at one minute to 2am. It was a miracle of old-fashioned belt and garters, fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants, sweat, swearing and sheer genius print journalism, genius we may never see again.”

Time Magazine voted the Cape Times wraparound as one of the 14 best front pages in the world but, within hours, Dasnois was fired for her decision. She took the company to court and secured a financial settlement as well as an official acknowledgement that “her decision was not intended by her in any way to show disrespect for Nelson Mandela or his legacy”.

The Cape Times has yet to respond to her new legal threat.
-0- PANA CU/VAO 12May2016

12 مايو 2016 12:34:33

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