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Michael Shaw
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Michael Shaw is a Clinical Psychologist, an analyst of visual journalism, and a frequent lecturer and writer on how politicians and the media frame political imagery. Michael's clinical training -- which is woven into his commentary -- involves the analysis of character and character styles. His research has dealt with the creative process, visual thinking, and how metaphors can create psychological insight.

BagNewsNotes is the only destination on the web dedicated 100% to visual politics and the analysis of news images.  The site also features photojournalism from top names in the field. Launched in 2004, BAGnewsNotes is closely followed by the political blogosphere; the political and visual media; the photo community; and university visual studies, communications and photojournalism programs.

In addition to his private practice, Shaw spent nine years as the consulting psychotherapist at The Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc), the architecture and design program and think-tank in Los Angeles. For five years before that, he served the same function at Otis College of Art and Design. Counting both experiences, he has spent thousands of hours collaborating with students and design professionals in their creative process, as well as participating in the formal and informal analysis and critique of visual images.

Shaw’s experience with cyberspace began in the early eighties. Working for a publishing technology firm in New York, he was involved in developing some of the first on-line, interactive graphic content designed specifically for the public. It was from these early services (know at the time as "videotex") that the html standard emerged, and new communication companies, such as AOL and Yahoo, first took shape.

The BAGnewsNotes site began in June 2003. Originally, it was the home for a civics tool/ visual experiment/political cartoon called BAGnews. Beginning in mid-2004, however, spurred by the photo coverage of the Bush-Kerry presidential campaign, Shaw turned his attention to this new "discipline" -- the visual analysis of political images.

Michael Shaw has been a regular front-page contributor to the Huffington Post since September '05, writing a blog feature called "Reading The Pictures."

To contact, please write to: mshaw AT bagnews (dot) com.

Entries by Michael Shaw

The Open-and-Shut Assault Case Against Occupy Activist, Cecily McMillan: Just Look at the Pictures

(350) Comments | Posted May 8, 2014 | 4:20 PM

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Officer Bovell certainly not the aggressor and certainly appreciative of any misunderstanding after elbowed by Cecily McMillan when he grabbed her from behind.

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Larger angle of Reuters shot as multiple other Occupy hooligans are snatched up.

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Reading the Pictures: Were the Reuters 'Boy in a Syrian Bomb Factory' Photos Staged?

(2) Comments | Posted April 3, 2014 | 8:49 AM

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Following up a post last week at the NY Times Lens Blog, Donald Winslow at the National Press Photographer's Association (NPPA) website detailed the circumstances surrounding a photo story distributed last September by Reuters. Published after the Assad government's...

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Reading the Pictures: On the Photo Exploitation of Kiev: Esquire's Hashtag Mining

(0) Comments | Posted February 27, 2014 | 7:29 AM

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It's called hashtag mining. And ever since Thomas Dworzak did it so creatively in these photo/scrapbooks presented by NatGeo, I was anticipating something more weird and bizarre to come.

What Dworzak did was remarkably simple. Following particular (in some instances, you...

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Reading the Pictures: If We Had Only Seen Hoffman in Pain

(0) Comments | Posted February 19, 2014 | 7:58 AM

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These photos have been on my mind since February 2. I look at them now and the anguish, especially of someone trained to hide it, is wrenching....

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Reading the Pictures: Putin & Sochi: Let the FU's Begin

(25) Comments | Posted January 31, 2014 | 6:57 AM

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With the Winter Olympics about a week away,...

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Reading the Pictures: Twitter Is for Twits. Justin Bieber, Justin Bieber.

(0) Comments | Posted January 27, 2014 | 7:46 AM

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Judging by the journalism PR site, MuckRack, one of the most popular news posts this weekend was a piece by the NYT Bits Blog trumpeting the demise of Twitter. Lamenting "the good old days," the author, Jenna...

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Reading the Pictures: So You Missed the Photos of Bangladeshi Garment Workers Having a 'Gap/Walmart Bar-B-Que?'

(3) Comments | Posted January 14, 2014 | 6:56 AM

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So you missed the story (and especially, the photos) of Bangladeshi workers not just setting alight their own factory but burning the Western clothes they've been producing? That would be, articles for corporations including American Eagle, Marks and Spencer, Gap, Sears,...

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2013 In Photos: The Year's Most Telling News Imagery

(6) Comments | Posted December 18, 2013 | 10:24 AM

Reflecting our hyper-visual culture, the "Best Photo of the Year" list has fast become a media staple. If you indeed come across one, what you can generally count on are the most dramatic, sensational or touching scenes from the past year's current events. Because we at BagNews spend the year...

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Reading the Pictures: The Most Important Michelle Obama Photo Ever, Clarified

(45) Comments | Posted December 5, 2013 | 7:20 AM

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...and then you wonder why the Administration is so thin-skinned about photo access when it's so easy to shut the cameras out and self-publish.

If you were anywhere around the social nets Wednesday, you would have seen the national...

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Pic of the Day: White House's Crass (Visual) Response to Media's Photo Access Protest

(86) Comments | Posted November 23, 2013 | 10:22 AM

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Imagine you're the President, or better yet, head of the President's communications office.  And imagine that day finally comes when the national press corps decides it has had enough of being denied photo access to the President -- even...

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Everybody Knows the "Napalm Girl" but How Come Nobody Knows the "Black Blouse Girl"? 45 Years Later, My Lai, the Military and Sexual Abuse

(244) Comments | Posted November 13, 2013 | 9:40 AM

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A recent BagNews post has caused readers to take a new look at a famous photograph from a Vietnam War atrocity. The snapshot--taken by Army Photographer Ronald Haeberle during the My Lai Massacre, in which over 500 innocent, unarmed villagers were...

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Reading the Pictures: Fact is, We Can't Get Enough of Hitler

(0) Comments | Posted November 8, 2013 | 8:29 AM

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The photos and scholarship surrounding Hitler's touring the 1938 Nazi Art Exhibition (and every one from 1937 through 1944) isn't exactly unknown. But that's the point. Apparently, we can't get enough of Hitler.

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Maybe there's...

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Reading the Pictures: Meet the De Blasios!

(21) Comments | Posted October 31, 2013 | 8:42 AM

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Call it patronizing all the way down to the typography. If NY Mag chose to frame the family, and the likely next first family of New York City as a biracial flavor-of-the-moment, as the hands-down winners of this year's Christmas/Hannukah/Kwanzaa mailbox double-take...
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Reading the Pictures: Why All the Syrian Execution Imagery in the Major Media Lately? (GRAPHIC)

(5) Comments | Posted September 15, 2013 | 2:52 PM

Note: The photos below are GRAPHIC. They appeared on the covers of major publications in recent weeks:

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The New York Times. Paris...

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Reading the Pictures: Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid (Without Your AmEx Card)

(4) Comments | Posted September 10, 2013 | 8:37 AM

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Cyber War, cyber-security, electronic armies, domestic spying. The galloping anxiety right now surrounding war, dangerous brown people in the Middle East, electronic surveillance, privacy and security agency breaches offers the perfect storm for those Orwellians on Madison Avenue to scare you into, what...

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Reading the Pictures: Multiracial Zimmerman Protest Photos Sign of Change or Wishful Thinking?

(25) Comments | Posted July 15, 2013 | 3:36 PM

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One thing that struck me immediately about the photo coverage of the response to the Zimmerman verdict, distinct from at least recent civil rights protest imagery, is the number of...

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Reading the Pictures: What Shocks Me Most About the Bloody Boston Marathon Bombing Pictures (GRAPHIC)

(248) Comments | Posted April 17, 2013 | 8:09 AM

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What takes me aback are how graphic the news photos are (#8 especiallyas compared to the almost total visual censorship of American war casualties over the past twelve years.

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After the battle over Julie...

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Reading the Pictures: The Border Fence: Still Everybody's Dog Whistle

(104) Comments | Posted February 21, 2013 | 6:22 AM

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Mr. Flake and Mr. McCain ... say they simply bowed to the facts on the ground: their constituents would never accept a full-scale immigration bill until they first believed the border was secure. Now, they explain,...
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Reading the Pictures: Gabrielle Giffords, Mark Kelly and the New Liberal Times

(241) Comments | Posted February 1, 2013 | 9:08 AM

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They emerged this week as the most vivid representatives of Obama's new liberal America, as emblematic of the times and what ails us as Valerie Plame and Joe Wilson were America's "terror era" canaries in the coal mine.

In a media...

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Reading the Pictures: Doom in America: What the NY Post Subway Death Photo Is Really About

(294) Comments | Posted December 5, 2012 | 11:27 AM

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In the foreground of the photo, in a setting that is quintessentially New York, we witness a man in a hole so deep, he cannot climb out of it while just beyond him, diagonally to his left, he faces the immediate threat...

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