Going Viral

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"On Monday," he continues, "I sent emails to The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Huffington Post inquiring about their interest in the series. The Washington Post and The New York Times both responded quickly, expressing interest in working it into their online publication schedules. Then the next morning [Tuesday], the police raided and evicted the Occupy Wall Street camp, and the story hit a new level of urgency and interest. The Washington Post ran it on one of their blogs immediately, pulling comments from my project description and from my blog post into their article. The New York Times Lens blog [one of the most influential and widely followed photography blogs] called, asking for images resized to their specs within three hours. They did a 20-minute interview for their article, which ran the next morning. This led to discussions about the series in Slate, The New Yorker [on their websites, posted by editors] and many others. The Huffington Post contacted me a few days later about doing a story. With this media attention, traffic to the site skyrocketed. Facebook had over 2,500 "shares" [people who posted it on their walls], and tweets were well into the thousands. I knew it would get some attention—it was a headline with growing momentum—but I had no idea it would go so far in just a week."

Bradley notes that despite a few Internet trolls and a bit of paranoia about FBI and police profiling from the Occupiers at Zuccotti Park, the feedback and attention were overwhelmingly positive. When asked about the longe
vity of the project and why he thinks that this particular series struck a chord, characteristically, Bradley is both realistic and optimistic about the long-term possibilities.

"The project certainly rode the newscycle momentum of the larger Occupy Movement story," he says, "but within that collection of competing headlines, I think this project really gave a personal touch to something that seems impersonal. The idea of a large movement, especially one without any personalities at the forefront, doesn’t resonate as well as the story of an individual looking at you right in the eye. What makes this protest movement different from the ones we’ve seen on a regular basis is both the size and the significant active involvement of people that mainstream suburban America would identify with—people who could be their next-door neighbors. While this part of the group is no more important than any other in my view, it does make the movement harder to marginalize by its opposition."

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