No other site reviews and critiques news images as well as publishes original photography — all in the name of helping you become a sharper “visual consumer.” Are you bombarded by powerful images from the world of news, culture and social media? Sign up for our “Week in Re-View” and let us help unpack them for you. Other sites read the words. We read the pictures.

Archives About Staff BagNews is dedicated to visual politics, media literacy & the analysis of news images.
April 8, 2009

America(n) Taken Hostage By Somali Pirates


I offer this image for two reasons — first, because it’s quite a descriptive photograph (or a photograph-within-a-photograph), and second, because it carries significance against the background of American might as under reconstruction by the Obama Administration.

In the picture, Andrea Phillips holds a photo of she and her husband, Richard Phillips. Phillips is the captain of a U.S.-flagged cargo ship hijacked today off the Horn of Africa in the first engagement between Somali pirates and a ship with an American crew.

Regarding the visual politics, I could easily see this image being used to shout out “America held hostage” — at least, in the Bush/Cheney “terror war” era. Given the new Administration, however, I’m hopeful (beyond securing the safe release of Capt. Phillips) that this incident will be understood and dealt with in more rational and localized terms.

(Note: Further analysis by BAGnewsNotes readers strongly suggests the analysis of this photo was clearly fishy and the third paragraph has been removed. The BAG, however, stands by the political take.)

Update 4/9/09 9:50 pm PST:


As Capt. Phillips remains in the custody of the pirates, the visual narrative continues.

from: Standoff With Pirates Shows U.S. Power Has Limits (NYT)

(image 1: Toby Talbot/Associated Press. image 2: Caleb Kenna for The New York Times)

Comments Powered by Disqus