Roger Ebert Dies, Sending Loyal Fans to Social Media, A Place He Ruled

Friday, 05 Apr 2013 09:06 AM

By Alexandra Ward

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Roger Ebert's death led to an outpouring of support on Twitter, the medium that helped reinvent his career.  

Roger Ebert, the legendary Chicago Sun-Times film critic whose public battle with cancer left him unable to speak but couldn’t silence his prolific voice, died Thursday. He was 70.

"For a man who lost the ability to speak in 2006, his voice was stronger than most online," wrote Clinton Yates for the Washington Post. "(Ebert) used Twitter expertly as a platform to talk about whatever he wanted and not just a platform to share his work in another space on the Internet… In a sense, Twitter completely revamped his career."

News of Ebert's death shook the social media community, with celebrities and fans alike mourning the loss.

Ebert, who signed on as the Sun-Times' film critic in 1967, was diagnosed in 2002 with papillary thyroid cancer, and in 2003 was operated on for cancer in his salivary gland.

Further surgeries to remove more cancerous tissue required the removal of a section of his jawbone, and he continued to suffer complications over the next few years. After fracturing his hip last December, he underwent further surgery.

Ebert announced Tuesday on his blog that his cancer had returned and that he was taking a "leave of presence" from his critic duties, freeing him up to pursue other journalistic ventures.

"What in the world is a leave of presence? It means I am not going away," Ebert wrote. "My intent is to continue to write selected reviews but to leave the rest to a talented team of writers handpicked and greatly admired by me. What's more, I'll be able at last to do what I've always fantasized about doing: reviewing only the movies I want to review."

Related stories:

Roger Ebert Cannot Speak, but Still Communicates 

Roger Ebert Gets 'Voice' Grandkids Can Recognize

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