NOTE: BagNewsNotes is now located at Please update your bookmarks.

You will be automatically redirected in a few seconds...

11 posts categorized "Blogging Focus"

Apr 15, 2009

"Resolving" Shaw, Chin And The BAGnewsNotes Mission


I want to thank the people at Live Books and their new "Resolve" blog for dedicating an extensive amount of space, time, thought and editing resource to examining our "journalism" here at BAGnewsNotes, and in particular, my collaboration with photographer Alan Chin.

Resolve was specifically interested in understanding how BAGnewsNotes -- as an independent, progressive and still-evolving enterprise -- is pioneering a new editorial and business model for the publication of photojournalism and the analysis of media and visual politics.

Over nine interview-style posts, the series traces my collaboration with Alan from the time we first met almost four years ago (when a person many of the readership couldn't quite believe was Alan Chin -- then embedded in Iraq with The New York Times -- suddenly joined in a contentious BAG discussion of one of his images published by The Times the day before) through our work together covering Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath; Virginia Tech; the '08 presidential primaries; our wall-to-wall, DNC-accredited coverage of the Democratic Convention in Denver; and more.

Immersed in a medium which affords little time to step back, let alone, an opportunity to study the long view, I find the series incredibly valuable. What it helps me appreciate (beyond a selection of Alan's wonderful images) is how, as old media struggles, we have been engaged in a thoughtful, dramatically educational, unfolding experiment to create an innovative, independent and, ultimately, we hope, economically-viable form of political media out of this, our laboratory.

(The images book-ended here, by the way, and also featured in the second post in the Resolve series, illustrate "the larger picture" Alan and I try to get at. The view above is the what most media consumers saw of Rudy Giuliani's photo-op at the Segway plant during last year's New Hampshire primary. The image below is the simultaneous reaction of the temporarily-inconvenienced Segway workers demonstrating their reaction to the show.)

>> Check out the Resolve series: "Photo assignments from bloggers: new model or same old problems?" We're interested, of course, in your feedback.

>> Also, check out, bookmark and follow the Live Books Resolve photojournalism blog here.


(Images © Alan Chin. New Hampshire. January 5, 2007)

May 06, 2008

Bill Ayers, The Flag, Steve Clemons, And Going Off The Deep End - Updated

Ayers Flag

Oh please, where does this all end?

Apparently, the hysterical, formerly extreme right-wing "flag attack" on Obama has now wormed itself right into the liberal blogosphere, as evidenced by this image -- and the knee-jerk reaction to it -- on The Washington Note.

(Sorry for the brief commercial, but this is a perfect example of why we all could use a little more skill when it comes to looking at political imagery.)

Leading his post today, titled "Trampling the Flag," Steve Clemons grabs a lead image from an on-line Chicago Magazine feature on Bill Ayers.  (I'll just insert, by the way, that the article and image lighting Steve's fire in the middle of this stretch of blistering condemnation of Obama, and anyone linked to him, has been sitting there since August of 2001.)

So, let's talk about the picture, both formally and symbolically.

Continue reading "Bill Ayers, The Flag, Steve Clemons, And Going Off The Deep End - Updated" »

Mar 11, 2008

The Revolution Will Not Be Blogged


Oh, what happened to the simple life when it was just "us" against Cheney, Bush and the neocons?

Drawing arrows from both sides, FDL's Pachacutec made a valient attempt yesterday at Huffington Post to uphold the agency of that monolith formerly known as the liberal blogosphere (before the Democratic presidential race managed to pave two opposite lanes right through the middle of it).

Revealing our current, and unfortunate circumstances, Pachacutec -- in point number one -- outlined the fact that neither Democratic contestant is a Wellstone, a Feingold, a true progressive.  (Rather, either seems equally capable, once elected, of revealing an inner Lieberman.)  And in point number two, Pach, likewise, laments how few liberal blogs have managed to hew the true course, upholding: "behavior as a referee on the process and on the narratives propelled by anyone claiming a Dem label, and toward more of a partisan candidate sorting."

...Which reminds me of my favorite moment at YearlyKos '07 (which now seems like years ago):  Sitting around with some big name bloggers, what struck everyone out of the blue, and reduced everyone to dead silence, was the sudden prospect of: What if we win?  (And, who could have imagined that the break up of the unanimity and internal consistency of the liberal 'sphere might have sunk roots even before we won?)

Continue reading "The Revolution Will Not Be Blogged" »

Aug 03, 2007

YKos '07: Picture Of Youth


First, the drama.

I had a mishap this morning with rendered my current machine virtually inoperable.  Thankfully, amidst my year's worth of possessions, I was carting my slow and tired old PowerBook which -- after a dash to the AppleStore for a power cord -- is now keeping me on the air.

As I said, I'm not planning on blogging the convention ... per se.  However, I did hear an excellent presentation this afternoon by F.C.C. Commissioner Michael Kopp.  He seems intent on a review of the Dow Jones take-over, although the overall Commission has barely blinked.  Also, I had the chance to ask George Lakoff if he ever thought about visual framing and visual rhetoric.  He said: "Yes, all the time" -- although he "hasn't done anything with it."  (I told him we should have him over sometime.)

The one thing I would like to clarify, however, is this evening's erroneous and insulting post by the NYT's, The Caucus trying to cause trouble between the conference, the Clinton campaign and even Mother Theresa!

  It states:

Continue reading "YKos '07: Picture Of Youth" »

Aug 01, 2007

Picturing The Kos


Since I'm headed to Chicago this morning, I'm particularly interest in how the media, and especially, the Times, will be visualizing YK '07. 

To start the BAG's coverage, I offer you this pic from last year.  It was one of the NYT's two main images of the Vegas extravaganza, the other being this one. By the way, those socks belonged (and maybe still do) to Carl, a BAGreader -- who revealed his identity in last year's thread (linked above).   

Because I'm guessing the convention will be good for two or three days of prime coverage, anyone care to anticipate what we'll (visually) be fed?  (It's hard to imagine the Times would repeat -- or could get away with --  stereotyping us as a small band of oddballs.  If there is exaggeration to look forward to, however, perhaps we'll now be scary-large and devouring.)

Because my mission here is to keep experimenting, I'd like to try a BAG-equivalent of blogging the show.  But it's going to be an intentionally non-comprehensive and mostly right-brained exercise.  Which means, I'd like to go to Chi-town to look, even more than to listen.  I'd like to also watch what the photographers are doing, and see if I can't capture some of that angle. 

Besides drawing on the customary media images, I might resort a bit to my pedestrian point-and-shoot.  Don't worry, however, it's just a field exercise; a break from the words; some summer fun.  Otherwise, the BAG's visual space remains reserved only for the most practiced eyes.

While on the subject, by the way, I spend the afternoon in Brooklyn yesterday with mainstay BAG contributer Alan Chin.  (Keep watching here for photos and reflection from his last trip to New Orleans.)  It was my next-to-last day in NYC after a month here, as a interstitial stop between Barcelona (my home the previous 10 months) and L.A. 

When I told Alan what I was hatching, he was amused, likely visualizing me elbowing in between the shooters from Reuters and the A.P.  "So you're joining the goat-fuck?" he asked.  "Just don't get in anybody's way."

(Rick Scibelli Jr. for The New York Times.  Las Vegas. August 2006.

Jun 22, 2007

Digby 1, Beale 0. (Or, She's Mad As Hell And She's Still Not Taking It Anymore!)

Digby-1A Digby-4
Digby-6 Digby-13
Digby-9 Digby-12
Digby-10 Digby-5

As long as I've known ... her, Digby has never left anything on the table.

If no blogger is more consistent on a day-by-day, paragraph-for-paragraph and even word-for-word basis, the speech she gave at her "unveiling" at the Take Back America Conference this week was simply an elevated example of her gift for hitting a target with the utmost precision.  In the name of progressive bloggers everywhere, she explained what we do, why we exist, and how we came to be in the clearest, most exact, and most exacting terms.

But you can read all about the speech from superlative textual bloggers, like Glen Greenwald.  In this house, it's mostly about the picture -- which is what Digby gave us on Tuesday, with purpose.

As she explained to Joan Walsh at Salon:

"There wasn't any real plan to 'come out' but when Rick Perlstein approached me about this I felt it was an important moment for the progressive blogosphere, and I knew that it would be a good use of my (otherwise useless) mystique.

Digby's comment reveals two points in her thinking, both consistent with her impeccable instincts.

First, her revealing herself represents one more step in the rising visibility of the blogosphere.  Like it or not, we are a personality-driven culture.  To let herself be seen -- to put a face to the name, and a face to the words ... as well as to extinguish any last fantasy that Digby starred in "Network" -- was to play an ace she'd been holding to further boost the sphere's maturation.

Continue reading "Digby 1, Beale 0. (Or, She's Mad As Hell And She's Still Not Taking It Anymore!)" »

Feb 17, 2007

Osama bin Times? Or, bin TIME?


"Part of a bizarre image that Alexandre Batlle, of Miami Beach, Fla., hoped to put on T-shirts after registering Obama bin Laden as a trademark. His application was flatly refused last week."

-- Caption accompanying illustration (above) at NYT "The Lede" blog.

The blogosphere grew up with the keenest focus on a weak-kneed MSM.  But now, who's keeping an eye on those proliferating, sharp elbowed MSM blogs?

Literally tossing print baggage overboard to boost their web presence, "old media" conglomerates like TIME and the NYT's are paddling like mad to establish their own beach front  property in the blogosphere before it's too late.  And what's one quick way to make it happen? How about leveraging your brand, and your more upstanding credentials, with the kind of gawkerish sleaze lining the political bottom of the indie-web?  (And, of course, doing it visually.)

Take last week, for example.

Continue reading " Osama bin Times? Or, bin TIME?" »

Jan 25, 2007

Your Turn: I Want My Yglesias TV (... Or Do I?)


Because I do have a category called "Blogging Focus," and because The BAG -- with its unique visual pathway into political commentary -- does not always link enough to "the big boys," I thought we might turn our attention -- for a change of pace -- to the media dynamics (and aesthetics) of videoblogging.

Not that the simple, "hey, where's my tripod, garage (or, should I say cubicle?) report" doesn't -- on the surface, at least -- seem to completely fit netroots brand communication, but, since the 'spherically well-known and highly-respected blogger, Matthew Yglesias, has just begun complementing his eponymous blog with video reports, I'm interested in your analysis.

Not to turn this simply into a whimsical exercise about presentation, I'd like you to consider a couple questions regarding the nature (specifically, the primarily textual nature) of the blogosphere.  Here are some things I'm  wondering :

First, it seems like one thing for a blog to post TV or cableland video, or any "non-blog specific" material that illuminates the point, but what are the implications for the blog form when -- as in this case -- Yglesias' comments, as video content, simply replaces the same product, in the same space, typically delivered like this?

Second, and here's the big "niche/marketplace" question:  With the blogosphere growing up, and its members becoming more influential and better known, what distinguishes the "video-blogger" -- as a talking head -- from the cable TV talking heads (at the other end of the spectrum, I guess), and, more confusingly, all those print-reporters-turned-talking-heads that are starting to do all that video clip reportage (and analysis) on the on-line sites at and

If blog commentary goes (or even, just encompasses) the video route (and, given my subject matter, I've entertained the idea myself), exactly what do we gain?  But, more specifically, what do we risk, lose, or subject ourselves to?  If Matthew, for example, should decide to move beyond the textual realm, what continues to distinguishes him as a blogger, beyond the public access channel savoir faire?

(See also: Josh Marshall's video-response to the SOTU)


Aug 04, 2006

Sambo Joe And The Visual Blogosphere


If you missed the brouhaha, Jane Hamsher of firedoglake briefly became a subject of controversy in the Connecticut senatorial primary yesterday morning.  Having spent the last two weeks traveling with the Lamont campaign while blasting at Lieberman on her blog, Hamsher led off her most recent campaign update at HuffingtonPost with the image above.

What "inspired" the visual was the scramble for Connecticut's black vote, and what Hamsher pointed to as Lieberman's crass appeal for it.  (John Dickerson of Slate has a good summary of the whole affair, including Lieberman's bloviating indignance, and Lamont's amateurish reaction, distancing himself from both Hamsher, and the blogosphere.)

Obviously, this story is full of visual angles.  There is Hamsher's role (and the "photo-editorial" responsibility of the blogger), there is the image itself (which, after posting, was quickly withdrawn), and there is the peculiar light this illustration cast on the newswire photos of Lamont's campaign day.

What follows is a snippet of Hamsher's apology (or, "non-apology," according to Dickerson) for the photo-illustration (also featuring a link to a Connecticut site documenting a racial flier allegedly circulated by the Lieberman campaign).  What makes the response particularly BAG-worthy, however, is the question Hamsher poses about the relevance of her choice of images.  She writes:

For weeks, Senator Lieberman has attempted to woo African Americans by pretending to be someone he clearly is not.  Meanwhile, his campaign has liberally distributed race-baiting fliers that have the "paid for by" Joe’s campaign disclaimer at the bottom, lying to the press about their intended recipients.

But for some reason, more questions have been asked about me, a blogger.  With so much at stake this election, is the choice of images used by a mere supporter really newsworthy?

First off, Jane needs to step a little closer to the plate.  This "mere supporter" just happens to attract about 450,000 page views a week.  Also, excuse me for being technical, but the phrase "choice of image" is not that forthcoming, either.  As I understand it, Hamsher didn't just choose this illustration -- she conceived it.

More important, however, is the question of whether a blog image is newsworthy.  Interesting question coming from a site that leads nearly each post with an image, a great many of which constitute strong parody, or almost stand-alone op-ed.

Regarding the image itself, it doesn't make much sense unless you're following this contest as closely as Hamsher is.  Beyond that, you have to wonder how much the race question -- in a contest between two well-off white guys in Connecticut -- really involves platforms and qualifications, so much as it does a (Rovian-style) appeal to a strategic voting niche.

On the visual alone, the use of "black face" is so culturally loaded, it's hard to believe Ms. Hamsher wouldn't see this coming back at her.  But then, maybe she truly is missing the visual dynamics of the sphere.  (As a further reflection of the mindset, FDL -- in spite of its prominence and heavy use of graphics -- has yet to adopt photo or illustration credits as standard practice.)

Finally, doctoring Lieberman side-by-side with Bill Clinton only heightens the blasphemy.  But it's based on the controversial campaign flier, you say?  Sure.  But, because Hamsher's post made no mention of the flier, and had nothing to do with race, how were Huffington Post readers supposed to "appreciate" the context?  On the other hand, Clinton's affinity for the black community and black churches is so widely known, it lends an even harsher edge to Sambo Joe. 

(Because the post did have to do with Wal-Mart, maybe a better choice might have been to make Lieberman's head an oversized smiley face.)

Lamont-Sharpton  Lamont-Jesse
(click to expand)

Finally, I'm wondering how much Hamsher's inside knowledge of Lamont's schedule this week inspired this illustration.  Perhaps Jane's (unconscious) motivation was to run interference while Lamont played his own race card.  Either way, as the visual fancy of "one blogger out there," it sure doesn't make these "other" images seem any more natural.

(image 1: Douglas Healey/AP.  Aug. 2, 2006.  Stamford, Conn.  Via YahooNews.  caption: Ned Lamont center, embraces Tommie Jackson, pastor of the Faith Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church at a breakfast with Rev. Al Sharpton.  image 2: Bob Child/AP.  Aug. 2, 2006.  New Haven, Conn.  Via YahooNews.)

Jun 23, 2006

Who's In The House


Besides a recent take on the visual coverage of YearlyKos, The BAG hasn't had much opportunity to actually look at the liberal blogosphere.  For this reason, I was thrilled to see this recent Ned Lamont ad featuring Markos.  (You can find it in this "Video Dog" post on Salon.)

The ad is groundbreaking as much for its narrative as for the "first time" convergence of cyber- and traditional politics.

By analyzing and comparing different stills, I believe you can read quite a lot about the impact and the morphing of the 'sphere, and it's growing effect on MSP ("mainstream politics").  I thought I'd discuss and compare "a few letters" (and I invite you to do the same).

B: Depicts what has (had?) been the recognized role of the 'sphere -- with the blogger on the outside peering in, checking up on and looking over the shoulder of the largely unwitting pol.

C: Captures the abandonment and vigor of the blogging space.  Also, reclaims the role of emotion in progressive politics.  Whereas Repugs frame Dems as emotionally reactive, angry, unstable (see: the Dean scream), the blogosphere offers a healthy reframe, in which emotion -- characterized by components such as: commitment, care, concern, passion, boldness and confidence -- is a good, powerful and essential characteristic for the party --and the debate.

A vs D:  Demonstrates how the blogosphere -- through "cultural transfer" -- can shake up the deadening ritual of political behavior -- in this case, transforming a prescribed candidate into a more spontaneous and innervated one.  (A growing "beware" to the pol, however, who -- like Lieberman -- tries to boycott or resist the new 'tude.)

E1:  Is this the natural evolution of the 'sphere? As unpredictable as it is revolutionary, we've "entered the room."  For the first time, there is an expectation to engage the politician not just from "virtual space," but in the physical world and in common space.  (It's interesting this was set in a home environment, however.  Somehow, I can't see the roots stretching -- or, having to -- so far as to meet the politician on his/her work-a-day turf.)

Lastly, I can't help noticing (E2) how Markos is more charismatic, forward and engaged with the camera than Lamont, and how the supporters line up more with Markos, as well.  It raises the question of how the 'sphere (or the heavyweights of the sphere) are going to manage the power, notoriety and success.  All good problems, to be sure.  But tricky issues, nonetheless.

My Photo

My Other Accounts

Blog powered by TypePad
Member since 07/2003