For the first time in history, the National Press Club of South Africa has named a hashtag its Newsmaker Of The Year after awarding the accolade to #FeesMustFall for 2015.

The club has been running Newsmaker Of The Year since 1980, as a way of recognising an individual who drew the most coverage and had the most impact in the media in a calendar year. Each year, Press Club members submit nominations for the award and a final decision is then made by the executive committee.

“The decision to name #FeesMustFall as the Newsmaker for 2015 was unanimous,” National Press Club chairman Jos Charle, said in a statement.

“The last time the students of our country were united in a common cause like that was in 1976 when they protested against Afrikaans as a medium of instruction. However, this time around, #FeesMustFall received support across many sectors of our society, including students from across the globe,” he added.

#FeesMustFall first surfaced in October last year after the #WitsFeesMustFall protests spread across the country with many public universities joining in solidarity over the high cost of tertiary education in South Africa.

The hashtag was the most popular hashtag on South African Twitter last year and continues to pop up on social media as protest at various universities resurfaced early this year.

“Also notable with this movement, is how the power of technology can, in no time, bring people together in a common purpose,” Charle said.

Previous Newsmakers Of The Year include the likes of former presidents Nelson Mandela, FW de Klerk and Thabo Mbeki, current president Jacob Zuma, Oscar Pistorius and Thuli Madonsela.

[Source – National Press Club of South Africa]