Cell phone videographer captures Hussein's execution

Video taken with a cell phone of the execution of former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein Dec. 30 made its way onto the Internet and was shown in part or in full on Al-Jazeera and other networks worldwide.

The unauthorized video, which was taken surreptitiously, shows Saddam as he fell through the trapdoor of the gallows and dangled from the noose. Audio from the video also documented taunting from some present and Saddam’s reaction before the execution.

The video once again demonstrated a new powerful trend in newsgathering: citizen journalism. At least since the London subway bombings in July 2005, non-journalists have regularly contributed extraordinary footage of breaking news.

Quoting statistics from market research firm the NPD Group, “The Wall Street Journal” reported Jan. 3 that about two-thirds of cell phones shipped in November 2006 were equipped with built-in cameras, most of which also record video.

Cell phone video of the execution Saturday also exacerbated the already tense situation between Sunni and Shiite Muslims in Iraq, and prompted the new Iraqi government to launch an investigation into the execution. On Jan. 3, two guards and a government official were arrested in connection with the video capture of the execution.