December 17, 2008

Yes We Can


The other day, I was informed I write a lousy “ask” letter. In fact, it was recommended in no uncertain terms that I go back and re-read the mountain of Obama “ask” letters still cluttering my email client. So I did. And yes, it’s true, I’m not a good asker. So I’m starting over. With shorter sentences. To see if I can’t do a better job.

You see, we’ve got a critical, if not completely obvious job on our hands.

Even though the right-wing has recently been sliced-and-diced, it’s still pretty good at leafletting the public square. And, these folks are especially good at doing it in pictures. …especially when the media is helping them out with it.

But four years into this mission, we are not exactly passive consumers anymore. We’ve learned to unpack those pictures. And we’re also learning to offer up other pictures — from photographers who are first-hand witnesses, and aren’t beholden to the corporate sponsors.

Your donation today will help cover critical operating costs and time-sensitive photographer contributions — resources which are needed immediately for us to keep a check on those newswires, raise hell about biased or stereotyped pictures, pull the best eyes and minds together to discuss and take apart Madison Ave.- level visual spin, and otherwise keep our team shooting.

As the media visually trivializes our election gains and the right-wing pictures itself on the mend, won’t you help sponsor our leading role as a guardian when it comes to visual politics?


At The BAG, it’s the resources we have on hand going into 2009 which will determine how great a difference we can make. Besides comprehensive coverage of Campaign ’08’s visual hype and stereotypes, our contributers have been at the key scenes for years now — including the trials of New Orleans and the touch points of the propaganda war.

Would you help underwrite Alan Chin’s room for the night, or a parking spot that isn’t miles from the action the next time he’s covering a nation-shaking event for BAGnewsNotes ?

With your backing, by the way, The BAG hasn’t exactly been whistling in the dark.


A lot of our commentary, especially when cross-posted and featured at Huffington Post, has led to: media figures (who said Mark Halperin?) taking down posts likening Barack Obama to Sammy Davis Jr.; and to the exposé of visual censorship surges by the U.S. military in Iraq; and to the discrediting of published sexual innuendo meant to slander Democratic candidates; and to mainstays like Ben Smith and FDL following a photo to investigate Sarah Palin’s potential connections to the John Birch Society.

Won’t you make a tax-deductible donation right now to help us “investigate imagery” and to stop visual spin from going, unchallenged, right past people’s eyes?

Since you (as readers, as commenters, as fabulous tip referrers and idea generators) have been at the core of our mission every step of the way, you understand what’s at stake. It’s tracking down the visual lead. It’s calling out the visual truth. It’s underwriting the brilliant investigative and documentary work of the country’s most talented photojournalists at the same time traditional support is simply eroding. And, it’s also ensuring I don’t have to bother you too often for cash.

I know you’re knee-deep in holiday plans and Hank Paulson isn’t exactly coming around to call. But, The BAG’s been there day-in and day-out; we’ve been a great place to chat — the discussion threads filled with insight and wit; no one else is exactly filling our niche; we’ve got ambitious plans for ’09; and with your tax-deductible gift of $5 or $10 or $25 or $50 (or $500 — if life has treated you well and you got out of the market before Jim Cramer’s meltdown), we could even make people completely forget who said: “Politics is TV with the sound off.”

You can make a a completely tax-deductible contribution on-line by following this link. Or, if you prefer to write a check, please make it out to “Fractured Atlas,” with “BAGnewsNotes” on the memo line, and send to:


c/0 Michael Shaw, Ph.D.

P.O. Box 3217

Manhattan Beach, California 90266.

So, that’s my story. With your help, and the help of an incredible and growing support team, I’m committed, again, to giving as much as is humanely possible to the mission next year. And, I’m not sheepish to say, yes we can.



(images: Alan Chin; Nina Berman; Michael Kamber)

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Michael Shaw
See other posts by Michael here.

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