The May 2nd 2011 Killing of Osama bin Laden
This chapter focuses on the BBC’s coverage of the death of Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad, Pakistan. The analysis draws upon two weeks’ worth of ‘News at Ten’ bulletins that emerge in the aftermath of this event (May 2nd–15th 2011), and shows how ‘al-Qaeda’ is made simultaneously visible and invisible for the BBC’s audiences in the days and weeks after this event. While efforts are made to highlight the threat posed by al-Qaeda’s British and European ‘followers’, the BBC’s foregrounding of the ‘Personalised’ and ‘Islamic’ modes of representation, at the expense of the ‘Elusive’ mode, functions to powerfully distance the threat posed by al-Qaeda to British citizens, thus repairing the damage done to the social order in the years after the July 7th 2005 attacks. Indeed, in playing down the ‘Elusive’ category, however, it is suggested that the process of making al-Qaeda seen in certain ways serves, implicitly, to contain the threat and therefore minimise the levels of fear and anxiety that can be said to circulate in the aftermath of this event.