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I just watched a great independent documentary about PsychOps and their widespread use in consumer propaganda. It is no surprise that empire is built on  mind-plays upon the populace with regard their daily choices as it is on the mind-plays upon the same populace to sell its military invasions and murder during time of war invasion & occupation in foreign lands.


It’s still too early in the new media game to see if power really can be wrenched from big media – partakers in the psych-ops – and put into hands of the little guys. (And, this is not to suggest that the little guys will make better decisions, but it’d be a shift for sure). But, in terms of media and the stories we want told, can we imagine a media landscape over which we have more control?

We can feed photojournalism directly, if we only imagine ourselves as being in power.

Two tools have come to light this past week which seem feasible.

The first, Flattr, is a web-app which allows the user/recipient (note, I shied from the term ‘consumer’!) to express instant gratitude and give money to the producer of content. Flattr is built into the infrastructure of the web and applies to any and all content, not just photographer and not just journalism.

The second,, pertains specifically to photojournalism. If we are sick of celebrity pap filling our screens should we not be chomping at the bit for a model of production/consumption that is advertisement free and hands us some agency?

WHERE TO PLACE THE EMPHAS.IS is well aware of the success of the crowd-funded model in other areas of journalism. It seems, in my opinion, to be modeling itself on Spot.Us, progressing the format and making specific its use. I know that the widespread incorporation of the platform – and even the code of the site! – were things that Spot.Us founder Dave Cohn had in mind from the start. Adopt and fine-tune for the benefit of crowd-funded media.

Spot.Us was open to photojournalist pitches, but the platform diluted the impact of PJ work amidst all its other journalistic efforts. It seems like the photo-community would be more secure if it knew it had a place to call its own. In it now does.

Also, in its early stages, Spot.Us necessarily focused regionally, sprouting steadily across US metropolitan regions. looks to have a more global view – which is only right; times and expectations of new media have changed, grown up.

Kickstarter too has served many photographers well, but its reach is even wider than Spot.Us serving mainly creatives.

So, for me at least, seems to fall between Spot.Us and Kickstarter has an impressive list of endorsements from photo-editors and photographers (Philip Blenkinsop, Carolyn Drake, Jan Grarup, Michael Kamber, Teru Kuwayama, Dominic Nahr, Jerome Sessini, Anthony Suau, Tomas van Houtryve, Kadir van Lohuizen). is the brainchild of photo editor Tina Ahrens and photojournalist Karim Ben Khelifa. is set to launch early 2011. I think we should start saving our pennies for the first round of pitches.

This post is a while overdue. As I am sure you know, Medecins Sans Frontier launched Condition: Critical this year. It is a website to bring together the many stories of victims of the war, assemble video and photo tools for activism and to leave messages of support. That’s right … no money, just a letter and awareness.

As part of the effort, my mate Ben has had his hand in the first four videos pushed out to the world. Ben’s summary of this conflict and humanitarian situation;

“Its the world’s deadliest conflict since the second world war and yet the majority of people have never heard of it. According to the IRC at least at least 5 million Congolese have died in more than a decade of conflict sparked off by the 1994 genocide in neighboring Rwanda.  Most of the deaths are linked to a lack of medical facilities as the ability to access medical care in Eastern Congo has crumbled with the war.”

Ben’s team trained the comms people out in the field to gather stories and then they edited it to relay the stories in a powerful, respectful way. First hand tales and simple honest images. No gore, only testimony.

Drawing the War is the troubling tale of a boy carried away by opposition forces and set to work.

There are four videos from the MSF Condition Critical campaign on duckrabbit vimeo profile. The other three are Mishoka’s Story, Bahati’s Story, and Francoise’s Story.

So it seems that Ben has had some success in challenging and changing the public relations that non-profits and charities have to their global audience. Now all he, us and the people of Congo require it awareness, effort and mindshare.

Ben has asked us to do one or four of four things: 1. Leave a message of solidarity on the map; 2. Twitter about it and link to it on Facebook (for Twitter use #conditioncritical); 3. Embed one of the video’s on their blogs; 4. Write something about the project. Tewfic, Mark, Charlie, Mediastorm, Daniel and Boing have done their bit. Pass it along.


I also recommend following the MSF Photoblog, managed by Bruno Decock (I think) as it endeavours (commendably) in public to deliver relevant balanced, effective, non-sensational and representative photographs of Africa. Not easy!

Photographers Dominic Nahr, Julie Remy, Martin Beaulieu, Robin Meldrum, Yasuyoshi Chiba and Cedric Gerbehaye have been involved in the collaborations with MSF for Condition Critical.


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