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More and more people around the world use blogs and social network services. Their power to connect people and publish diverse voices raises questions about the possibility of using new media as organizing tools for social change. For example, blogs played a crucial role in organizing protests in Jena, Louisiana, in 2007. This panel will examine the intersection and interaction of social media with the struggle for a more just and humane society. Can tools such as Twitter, Facebook, Google+, blogs, YouTube, et cetera, facilitate such work, and if so how? We’ve all heard about how social media fueled the revolution in Egypt, but what’s going on locally? Conversely, might social media actually impede the struggle for justice? Are we just “amusing ourselves to death”? Does new media present new opportunities, or do we face the same issues as ever?

Moderator: Dr. Kimberly Chandler – Dr. Kimberly J. Chandler is an Assistant Professor of Communication Studies at Xavier University of Louisiana. As well, she is a faculty contributor to the Women’s Studies program at Xavier. In 2011, Dr. Chandler began a blog as an extension of her work in gender and communication entitled, “Confessions of an Ex-Superwoman.” Dr. Chandler is a passionate advocate for the use of service-learning as a method of instruction within the classroom. In doing so, she engages in the use of social media, especially blogging, in order to expand students’ notions of using one’s voice as an instrument of social justice and activism.

Jordan Flaherty – Flaherty was the first journalist with a national audience to write about the case of the Jena Six, and his award-winning reporting from the Gulf Coast has been featured in a range of outlets from the New York Times to Al Jazeera to Argentina’s Clarin newspaper. He has reported on protest movements in the Middle East and met with Egyptian bloggers after the revolution there. He is the author of FLOODLINES: Community and Resistance from Katrina to the Jena Six and has blogged at justiceroars.org.

Cherri Foytlin – Foytlin is an oil worker’s wife, mother of six, Louisiana resident and journalist whose family has been deeply impacted by the BP Oil Disaster and consequential moratorium on deep water drilling. She co-founded Gulf Change, blogs forwww.BridgeTheGulfProject.org, and walked to Washington D.C. from New Orleans (1,243 miles) to call for action to stop the BP oil disaster. She has been a constant voice, speaking out to the Obama Administration’s Gulf Oil Spill Commission, and in countless forms of media. Cherri will continue her fight for the industries, people, culture and wildlife of south Louisiana and the Gulf Coast “until we are made whole again.”

“Program note: Due to travel delays caused by Hurricane Irene, scheduled panelist Cherri Foytlin was unable to participate. Mary Joyce, co-founder of digiactive.org, filled in at the last moment.”

Jimmy Huck, Jr. – Huck is a professor at Tulane University in the Stone Center for Latin American Studies and functions as the Center’s Graduate Advisor. He sits on the Executive Committee of Tulane University’s Center for Public Service and is currently a Board member of Puentes New Orleans. His blog is “The Huck Upchuck” and he has been blogging since August of 2002. He has been involved in monitoring anti-illegal immigrant legislation in the Louisiana Legislature over the past three years and has traveled up to Baton Rouge on occasion to testify against such legislation. He has used his blog as well as other social media such as Facebook to mobilize grass-roots action regarding such legislation, and in the general promotion of social justice. His professional and intellectual interests include re-invigorating the idea of the academy as a proper vehicle for cultivating civic identity, educating for democracy, and transforming knowledge into social action.

Stephen Ostertag – Ostertag is a sociologist at Tulane University. His research and teaching are in the areas of news media, democracy and citizenship; and crime, incarceration and inequalities. He is currently researching the growing social organization of bloggers and its implications for the production, dissemination, and consumption of news and information. He also recently started a blog named publicspherenola. Stephen is originally from Connecticut, where he was a volunteer with the Hartford Independent Media Center.

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