Panel Discussion: Black and White and Red All Over

Panel Discussion: Black and White and Red All Over - The Digital Future of the New Orleans Media Market.

Late in the evening of  May 23, employees of the Times-Picayune read in the New York Times that their jobs would soon be lost or significantly altered as the 175 year old paper would be folded into a new "digitally focused" media company.  The print edition of the paper would be reduced to a three day per week schedule.  Over 200 employees would be laid off or reassigned in the process. 

The summer following the T-P's announcement has seen a lively discussion about the future of the news media in New Orleans and elsewhere.  Some have argued against the changes altogether. Others have suggested they aren't happening fast enough.  A still more nuanced and complete view will take into account questions about the needs of the community being served, as well as the costs of "doing journalism" and how those costs are covered. 

Looming over all of this is the concern that New Orleans is losing its "paper of record" where a great cross-section of the community is presented with a comprehensive consensus view of the issues and events that matter most to them.  Precisely defining the vacuum the Times-Picayune will leave in local news coverage may be an elusive proposition, but in the meantime, there is no shortage of entities and "alliances" lining up to try and fill it.  

Will the upheaval in the news industry eventually lead to an era of clearer focus for readers in New Orleans? Or will the fragmented nature of the digital lens merely bring about a more robust confusion? 

This panel and more will be presented on two stages at the Rising Tide 7 Conference on Saturday, Sept. 22, 2012.

Eventbrite - Rising Tide 7 

Moderater: Peter Athas - A longtime New Orleanian, lapsed lawyer and musician, Athas has been blogging about politics, music and whatever else seizes his fancy as "Adrastos" since 2005. His writing appears at First DraftHumid City, and Back of Town

  • Kevin Allman - Editor at The Gambit, the alt-weekly newspaper in New Orleans, Allman has been the editor of Gambit since 2008, where he has been covering the transition at The Times-Picayune since the night the story broke. In a previous life, he worked for the L.A. Times, and his stories have appeared in publications from The Washington Post to the San Francisco Bay Guardian. Last year, his questioning of then-presidential candidate Michele Bachmann about Louisiana public schools' teaching of "intelligent design" made national news. In July, he received the Press Club of New Orleans' highest honor for editorial writing, the Ashton Phelps Sr. Memorial Award.

  • Robert Morris - News Director at Uptown Messenger Morris began his journalism career in 2003 as a reporter for a weekly newspaper in his hometown of Hattiesburg, Miss. He quickly moved to progressively larger newspapers: the Palatka (Fla.) Daily News; The Courier, a New York Times regional paper in Houma, La.; and most recently The Sun News in Myrtle Beach, S.C., as first a reporter covering crime, politics and special investigations and finally as editorial page editor. Robert’s reporting has taken him from the inside of a modern-day slave labor camp in northern Florida to Washington, D.C., for the inauguration of President Obama. He covered the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina on the Mississippi Gulf Coast before taking a job at The Courier in Houma. While there, Robert’s coverage of the cultural effects of wetlands loss around Houma and the investigation and arrest of serial killer Ronald Dominique swept the Louisiana Press Association awards.

    UptownMessenger.com is a local, independent online source of news, commerce and knowledge for Uptown New Orleans that had its formal launch in September 2010.

  • Jason B. Berry - An independent, investigative blogger whose primary focus is on local government corruption here in the New Orleans metro area, Barry has through his own blog, American Zombie, and other local media outlets, helped expose numerous corruption issues ranging from the New Orleans IT office scandal during the Nagin administration to the cover up of the ongoing effects of the BP oil spill.  Jason has a background in video production and online media distribution.  In 2006 he co-directed a documentary on the New Orleans public school system titled "Left Behind".  He is currently working on a new documentary chronicling corruption in the New Orleans metro area in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and the BP oil spill that is tentatively titled, "Kleptopolis".  He is also a proud recipient of the 2009 Rising Tide Ashley award and contrary to popular belief he has never been sued for libel...at least not yet.   

  • James O'Byrne - Director of content at NOLA.com. Bio forthcoming.

  • Katy Reckdahl - As staff reporter for The Times-Picayune, Reckdahl has covered New Orleans since 1999. Her stories have tackled topics from  homelessness and HIV-positive women to Mardi Gras Indians and jazz musicians. She has won numerous awards, including a Casey Journalism Center Medal, the James Aronson Award for Social Justice Journalism, and the Press Club of New Orleans's Alex Waller Memorial Award.


Panel Discussion: The Education Experiment - Petri Dish Reform in New Orleans and Louisiana

This panel and more will be presented on two stages at the Rising Tide 7 Conference on Saturday, Sept. 22, 2012.

Eventbrite - Rising Tide 7 


Panel Discussion: The Education Experiment - Petri Dish Reform in New Orleans and Louisiana

Louisiana is famous for many reasons but since Hurricane Katrina, it has become the poster child of national K-12 education reform, being touted as a “radical experiment in reform”  in the New York Times (August 14, 2008).  Recently Governor Jindal's reform agenda dominated the 2012 legislative session and the national media with legislative priorities revising teacher evaluation and implementing a voucher system. The reforms have drastically altered the process for evaluating teachers while virtually eliminating tenure. In addition, the voucher program has diverted  nearly $2 billion in public education funds to private institutions resulting in controversy concerning the curricula of the some of the approved voucher schools. Proponents claim the program is about empowering principals and parents by giving them more choices and creating competition.  Critics charge that it is no less than an attack on the very concept of public education.

Meanwhile, New Orleans, with its diverse system of various types of charter schools with their own boards, remains the state's (and some would say the nation's) most preeminent "laboratory"  for educational experimentation.  During a recent television appearance, Senator Mary Landrieu praised "a brand new entrepreneurial, public school system that's attracting middle class white and black families, Hispanics, back to the system and seeing extraordinary gains in academics, freeing up our principals to be great and expecting our teachers to be great."

Critics have charged that the charter system decentralization makes its governance less accountable and transparent and that its reliance on the Teach For America program devalues experienced educators. Many also claim that the selective admissions policies in many of the most sought after charter schools encourages racial and class segregation. Critics also charge these same charter schools of failing to provide services for special needs students.  

Education in New Orleans has undoubtedly become synonymous with innovation.   The question remains whether it will also be associated with progress.

Moderator: Jessica Williams thelensnola.org
Jessica Williams is the education reporter at The Lens, the city's first nonprofit online newsroom. Williams covers education in general, and the city's charter schools in particular, and regularly monitors and guides coverage for the brigade of reporters involved in the Charter School Reporting Corps, who cover each of the city's 46 charter school boards.  Some of her work at The Lens has included: charters' failure to follow open-meetings, open-budgeting, and public records laws, stories that resulted in many charter school boards becoming knowledgeable about their legal obligations and changing internal procedures; persistently high out-of-school suspension rates in New Orleans schools, despite many schools' pledge to implement strategies aimed at keeping kids in school; and the rising costs public-school parents pay each year for enrichment and other purposes to supplement their child's taxpayer-subsidized education. She is a New Orleans native and a proud New Orleans Public Schools graduate.

  • Brian Beabout - An Assistant Pofessor of Education at the University of New Orleans and a founding board member of the Morris Jeff Community School. His research on post-Katrina school reform has been published in the Journal of Educational Change, Multicultural Education, and the School-Community Journal.

  • Elizabeth Walters - A writer, editor and high-school teacher in St. Bernard Parish, Louisiana. She holds a B.A. from Smith College and received her Post Baccalaureate training for Louisiana teacher certification from the University of New Orleans. She recently served as a judge for the Newspapers in Education and Education Article categories of the 2012 Maine Press Association journalism awards.

  • Zack Kopplin - A student at Rice University and a recent graduate of Baton Rouge Magnet High School.  Zack grew up in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and he is working to make sure that he and other Louisiana kids will be able to get jobs after they graduate. Since June, 2010, Zack has led the effort to repeal the Louisiana Science Education Act, Louisiana’s misnamed and misguided creationism law.  He is organizing Louisiana students and citizens in support of his repeal.  When not fighting for science, Zack likes to play soccer and swim. website http://www.repealcreationism.com/

  • Dr. Lance Hill - Executive Director of the Southern Institute for Education and Research, a tolerance education and race relations research center based at Tulane University in New Orleans.Hill holds a Ph.D. in history from Tulane University, where he has taught US History and Intercultural Communication. His scholarly research field is the history of race relations, the radical right and ethnic group trauma. He is the author of The Deacons for Defense: Armed Resistance and The Civil Rights Movement

    In 1993, Hill co-founded the Southern Institute for Education and Research at Tulane University, a race and ethnic relations center. The Institute's tolerance education program-the most comprehensive project of its kind in the South-has provided training to more than 4,000 teachers from 785 schools in the Deep South. Hill is the principal trainer for the Southern Institute's cross-cultural communication program which teaches skills to improve communication and collaboration among ethnic groups in the United States.

    Hill brings a unique perspective to the analysis of the impact of hurricane Katrina; he is not only an expert on the history of race relations in the Deep South, but he also remained in New Orleans throughout hurricanes Katrina and Rita where he participated in community-organized humanitarian relief work. Hill has published a series of commentaries in local and national publications on his experiences during the rescue and race and equity in issues in the recovery. He has frequently been cited in national media on post-Katrina race relations in New Orleans, including The New York Times, Time Magazine, ABC News andBBC News.

  • Caroline Roemer Shirley - Executive Director Louisiana Association of Charter Schools http://lacharterschools.org/
    Caroline has more than 20 years of experience organizing, developing and managing corporate and political communications strategies and public policy initiatives with an emphasis on message development and coalition building. Born and raised in Bossier City, Louisiana, Caroline left her home in 1991 to work around the country on political campaigns, eventually founding her own consulting firm, Roemer Bell, in Salt Lake City, Utah. Clients have included mayors, congressmen, governors and Fortune 500 companies.

    Returning to Louisiana in 2005, Caroline became the first executive director for the Louisiana Association of Public Charter Schools in the fall of 2006. The LAPCS currently represents more than 90% of charter schools in Louisiana and is recognized as the leading advocacy organization on behalf of charter schools in the state.




Keynote: Lolis Eric Elie

Rising Tide is pleased to have New Orleans based writer and filmmaker Lolis Eric Elie as a keyote speaker at Rising Tide 7. Lolis is ubiquitous. Whether you know his work from the HBO series Treme or his thrice weekly column ('95-'09) or in the soon to be thrice-weekly Times-Picayune, if you're from New Orleans you know his work. A recognized expert on New Orleans food and culture his writing has appeared in The Oxford American, Gourmet, The Washington Post, The New York Times, Bon Appetit, Downbeat and The San Francisco Chronicle among other publications. A former commentator for CBS News Sunday Morning, he has also appeared often on National Public Radio programs.

This panel and more will be presented on two stages at the Rising Tide 7 Conference on Saturday, Sept. 22, 2012.
Eventbrite - Rising Tide 7 

Keynote: Lolis Eric Elie 

Bio: Lolis Eric Elie is a New Orleans based writer and filmmaker. Most recently, he joined the staff of the HBO series Treme. Working with the award-winning director Dawn Logsdon, he coproduced and wrote the PBS documentary, Faubourg Treme: the Untold Story of Black New Orleans. His essay, “America’s Greatest Hits,” is included in Best African American Essays: 2009.

From 1995 to 2009, he wrote a thrice-weekly column for the New Orleans’ Times-Picayune. A recognized expert on New Orleans food and culture, he is the author of Smokestack Lightning: Adventures in the Heart of Barbecue Country and co-producer and writer of Smokestack Lightning: A Day in the Life of Barbecue, the documentary based on that book. He is editor of Cornbread Nation 2: The Best of Southern Food Writing.

A contributing writer to The Oxford American, his work has appeared in Gourmet, The Washington Post, The New York Times, Bon Appetit, Downbeat and The San Francisco Chronicle among other publications. His work is included in the anthologies Best Food Writing: 2008, Streetlights: Illuminating Tales of the Urban Black Experience, and That‘s What I Like (About the South: and Other New Southern Stories for the Nineties). A former commentator for CBS News Sunday Morning, he has also appeared often on National Public Radio programs.

He has an MA from the Columbia School of Journalism in New York and an MFA from the University of Virginia.

RT7 Keynote: Lawrence Powell

To know where you are going, you need to know where you are from. Continuing in Rising Tide's tradition of relevent and pertinent historical speakers, we are pleased to announce New Orleans writer, editor and academic Lawrence Powell as a keynote speaker at Rising Tide 7.  Known to be an engaging and entertaining speaker, Powell recently wrote "The Accidental City: Improvising New Orleans," a novel on the interesting and temultuous beginings of New Orleans from its imperiled first settlements to the eventual statehood of Louisiana.

This speaker and more will be presented on two stages at the Rising Tide 7 Conference on Saturday, Sept. 22, 2012.

Eventbrite - Rising Tide 7 

Keynote: Lawrence N. Powell

Bio: Until his retirement in June 2012, Lawrence N. Powell held the James H. Clark Endowed Chair at Tulane University, where he also established and directed the New Orleans Center for the Gulf South.  He has written and edited twelve books and numerous articles.  His most recent contributions are The Accidental City: Improvising New Orleans (Harvard 2012) and George Washington Cable’s New Orleans (LSU 2008).  His first book, New Masters: Northern Planters During the Civil War and Reconstruction won the Governor’s Award from Yale University Press in 1980. Troubled Memory:  Anne Levy, the Holocaust, and David Duke's Louisiana (UNC Press) won the Lillian Smith Book Prize from the Southern Regional Council and the Kemper and Leila Williams Prize from the Louisiana Historical Association, both in 2000. It was also named by Booklist as one of the ten best Holocaust books of the year and was a finalist for the National Jewish Book Award in the category of the Holocaust.

His professional and community service has been extensive, ranging from membership on the boards of the Amistad Research Center, the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities, the Louisiana State Museum Board, to the presidency of the Louisiana History Association and a stint on the executive committee of the Southern Historical Association.  A co-founder as well as president of the Executive Committee of the Southern Institute for Education and Research at Tulane University, from 1989 to 1992 he was vice-chair of the Louisiana Coalition Against Racism and Nazism (which he also helped found). For five years, until June 2005, he served as executive director of the Tulane-Xavier National Center for the Urban Community (NCUC), which administered the resident initiatives program for the Housing Authority of New Orleans, the city’s national demonstration Welfare-to-Work grant from the U.S. Department of Labor, as well as the city’s JOB1 Youth Career Center.  From 2002-2004 NCUC also administered the Individual Development Account Collaborative of Louisiana (IDACL), a statewide partnership of bankers, financial literacy trainers, credit counseling agencies, and other service providers to assist the working poor buy homes, start businesses, and further their education.

More than a productive scholar, Powell has also been an activist citizen, particularly in the arena of civil rights. He has chaired and organized national civil rights conferences and has been an expert witness in several federal voting rights cases in Louisiana. In 1998 he received the "George Washington Lucas Community Service Award" from the New Orleans branch of the NAACP.

A former Guggenheim Fellow, 1999 he was named “Louisiana Humanist of the Year” by the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities.  In 2008 he was elected a Fellow in the Society of American Historians in recognition of literary distinction in the writing of history.