Creating The Space

by digby

I am a big believer in the blogosphere as alternative media. We do many things, from analysis and commentary to live coverage to investigative journalism and more. One of the blogs that is doing something extremely interesting and unusual is my longtime advertiser BagNewsNotes. Michael Shaw examines visual images and discusses them, exposes photography from some of the best photo journalists around who can't always get their photos into the mainstream press and generally teaches us new ways of understanding the impact and meaning of the visual in our political and cultural environment. The community that gathers at his place engages in fascinating discussion of all these things.

I love having his thought provoking ads on my blog --- they are arresting and interesting and bring new depth to many stories that I'm covering and often inspires me to cover ones that I've missed.

He has a new project in mind that I think is well worth supporting. If the blogphere is going to support a new media infrastructure, then photography need to be in the mix:

Over the past year, I have made it a priority to meet and get to know many photojournalists. Talking to one incredibly talented, under-appreciated and under-compensated photographer after another, the response to what we're doing has been fantastic. Oppressed by what is commonly referred to, world-wide, as "the filter," the professionals see this site as something revolutionary. Simply put, this screen offers an open window between you -- the informed and rapidly growing progressive audience -- and the freelance photojournalist.

And why, specifically, is our mission and medium so intriguing?

Whereas a photographer might sell a few pictures to the MSM based on weeks, months or even years worth of effort, we have the space, format and focus to study and appreciate any number of images.

Whereas the photographer is typically pigeonholed as the purveyor of pictures alone, we can offer photojournalists reporter and witness status, accommodating visual and verbal accounts ranging from news to commentary to personal reflection.

Whereas a photo in the print medium might reach a couple thousand people, a resonant image, boosted by a link or two, can easily reach tens of thousands of receptive viewers in the blogosphere. (For example, the post featuring Alan Chin's amazing Katrina images has had nearly 33,000 visitors as of this morning.)

Whereas a photo story, run once in print, can be used up forever, the blogosphere -- as a narrative form -- thrives on continuity, almost demanding a photographer follow up or keep ongoing track of a story.

Finally, the blog, as a discussion medium, allows you and the photojournalist to share a dialogue, expanding the experience, exchanging ideas, answering questions and providing encouragement.

Over the past year, I have steadily increased the amount of original photojournalism here at BAGnewsNotes. Besides our regular contributers, Alan Chin and Tim Fadek, you have lately seen work by a number of Spanish photographers, including Lourdes Segade, Héctor Mediavilla and Ariadna Arnés.

Still, we could do more. Much more. Although many photographers are willing to informally collaborate with The BAG, the one factor that would make a significance difference is compensation. I am not proposing anything beyond our means, but if Firedoglake readers could raise the funds for the site to cover the Libby trial, why can't we -- the BAGnewsNotes community -- create our own media fund, offering good will payments to photojournalists in exchange for particular collaboration or ongoing relationships?

So, what exactly am I asking for?

I'm asking your help to fund more original photojournalism for BAGnewsNotes.

If we can raise enough money to show we're serious, it would allow me to develop informal affiliations with individuals and cooperatives, underwrite a few ongoing photo projects, and even help subsidize some photographers on assignment.

If you think new media is important, a modest (or not so modest) contribution to Michael's project is worth your while.