Before we actually get to the other side of the election, I wanted to answer the question I’ve been asked more that any other recently, which is: What’s Next?”
To appreciate the answer, you should know that “The BAG” has been on a total roll the past six month — especially since our DNC coverage and winning the Gilliard Award. In that stretch, visitors and page views have nearly tripled with our October traffic reaching almost 8,000 visitors per day. In ’08, we can truly say BAGnewsNotes become a mainstay in the progressive blogosphere and a go-to destination for visual politics. On the verge of entering a whole a new chapter in American politics, we have every intention of keeping the momentum.
Having studied Bush, the Bush Administration and then this prolonged election from practically every angle, we are thrilled to be clearing the slate to tackle a completely new set of visual themes, players and states of mind. Assuming an Obama victory, we’ll be watching Obama’s back when it comes to visual rough handling by the traditional media and those conservatives still standing. At the same time, we will be teasing apart the White House spin to the extent Obama drifts from a progressive agenda. We will also be tracking the reconstitution of the right-wing and what will inevitably be new culture wars. We will also be focused on “what the recession looks like,” especially to the extent traditional media looks away. And, or course, we plan to retrain on stories we’ve had our eyes on for years now, including Iraq, Afghanistan and Israel-Palestine.
As a new emphasis, The BAG will also be paying particular attention to militarism and the military-industrial complex. We hope this vigilance will be part of a “wage peace, not war” movement in the progressive ‘sphere as part of a campaign to scale back the Defense Department.
So far, however, we’ve been talking about themes as opposed to features. Well, here’s some of what is in the works:
* We’ll be joining with contributer Alan Chin on a new endeavor called BAGnewsOriginals to expand our compliment of original photojournalism. The mission of the project is to introduce a stream of new photojournalists to the site, exposing their work to a larger political audience and providing a forum for these visual reporters to dialogue directly back-and-forth with you.
* As part of our focus on militarism, we plan to dedicate a good bit of space to “Homeland,” contributer Nina Berman’s new book on the post 9-11 security state. The BAG will be publishing analysis and original material that extends well beyond the book.
* We have added a new contributer we are very excited about — someone well experienced in conflict zones — who we will be introducing to you shortly.
* For some time now, it’s been a goal to employ the blog format for a serialized visual investigation into one story, in one place, with the same set of people. Currently, we are working with a photographer to develop that story based on how one business is fighting the recession.
We are also planning to expand the BAGnewsSALON, our on-line discussion series, bringing visual academics, leading photojournalists, photo industry professionals and BAGreaders together to deconstruct visual politics according to various social and political themes. As part of this project, we are pleased to have Ida Benedetto on board to coordinate the mission as well as Cara Finnegan from the University of Illinois as our moderator.
Over the next few weeks, we will also be reporting back to you about our plans to increase revenue through ad sales and donations, not just to cover expenses but to expand our relationship with contributing photographers. We will also be seeking help to increase our volunteer manpower, especially technically. We have three goals in mind. One is to shift to a stand-alone Movable Type installation in order to add more functionality to the site. The second is to connect The BAG with additional ad networks. And the third is to do more of our own ad sales and solicitation of sponsorships, as well as PR.
As many of you know, BAGnewsNotes assumed its current form and mission in the months before the Kerry – Bush election. Having gone through a full four year cycle now, it feels like we have gotten our education.
Thanks to every one of you for your loyalty, commitment and participation. For The BAG, too, in the spirit of this campaign, it’s all about positive change.