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The Image(s) of Leadership

While BAGnewsNotes calls itself “a progressive blog dedicated to visual politics, the analysis of news images and the support of “concerned” journalism,” it also gives us a amazing peek into the lives of leaders on the national and international stages. (Note: Each image in this post is linked to BAGnewsNotes for commentary and photo credit.)

The effective exercise of leadership requires the ability to communicate a message to its intended audience. Fortunately during election time, we have many opportunities to observe and learn about simplifying and communicating complex messages to large audiences. This is something most of us will never have to do at this scale but monitoring and analyzing the candidates activities affords us the incredible opportunity to learn from their successes and failures.

(image: Eric Miller/Reuters.  Key Air Hangar. Anoka County Blaine Airport. Blaine, Minnesota, September 19, 2008.)

According to Shakespeare, “All the world’s a stage” and we can be sure that the Presidential candidates (and their running mates) understand that. They go to great effort and thought to craft messages through visuals. They understand “image is everything” and “you’ll be judged by the company you keep.”  Okay, enough cliches.

(image: Damon Winter/The New York Times.  September 19, 2008)

(image: Brian Snyder/ Reuters.  New York September 23, 2008)

Even during apparent stolen moments away from the crowds, candidates maintain and reinforce their campaign personae.


Michael Shaw is the “curator” of BAGnewsNotes as well as a “Clinical Psychologist; writer; analyst of visual journalism and interpreter of political images.” From the website:

“The BAG” offers a daily semiotic analysis of news and political images from a political, cultural or psychological point of view, and is also a platform for original social photography and photojournalism.

Michael’s clinical training — which is woven into my commentary — involves the psychology of character and the everyday presentation of self.  My research has dealt primarily with symbolic expression, the process of visual narrative, and the psychological function of metaphor.

The BAGnewsNotes blog 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 perceived peculiarities in the photo coverage of the Bush-Kerry presidential campaign, Shaw turned his attention to this new “discipline” — the visual analysis of political images.

Besides this site, Michael has been a regular contributor to the Huffington Post since September ’05, writing a blog feature called “Reading The Pictures.”

In September ’07, he also became an on-line columnist for American Photo Magazine.

BAGnewsNotes combines stunning world class images with insightful, and many times, droll commentary that makes this blog a must read for all students of leadership.

About the author

Peter A. Mello, Founder/Editor Founder of Weekly Leader and Sea-Fever Consulting, LLC, a leadership development and strategic communications consultancy. Previously, CEO of an international nonprofit organization and COO of a national insurance/risk management services firm. Peter has been leading people and managing organizations for over 30 years, writes a leadership column for MarineNews magazine and blogs about maritime culture at Sea-Fever. Follow him on Twitter.

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