The headlines screamed along with a haunting picture of a bearded Saddam Hussein: Saddam the prisoner (The Guardian), Saddam captured (The Times), The tyrant is now a prisoner (The Independent), The tyrant is a prisoner (Financial Times).
The event of the capture of Saddam Hussein, or rather the US approved mediatised representation of the capture, just like the events of September 11 or the shock-and-awe bombing of Baghdad, was a spectacle for consumption of audiences throughout the world. How did the guardians of the free press (particularly newspapers, who do not have to respond to pressures of just-in-time news unlike the television news channels) react to and report this event on the morning after in the UK? A rhetorical analysis of most major newspapers published in England (broadsheet as well as tabloids, published on Monday 15 December) in terms of their reporting, leading articles and editorial comments on the news of the arrest of Saddam Hussein questions the extent to which papers merely report an event. This essay is therefore an analytical exercise in examining the construction of news through representations. It challenges the glorification of the freedom of press in liberal democracy, which is based on an objectivist notion of news reporting: journalists merely report on events existing out there as objectively as possible.