They were angry. They were tired. And this time, they had smart phones and laptops.

As revolt swept the Middle East in the spring of 2011, governments fell. Bloggers and tweeters had chipped away at regimes, detailing every time they saw the emperor without clothes. As the discontent swelled and rose, the messages didn’t stop when countries blacked out the Internet and the people started making government change, whether it wanted to or not.

The West Virginia University Perley Isaac Reed School of Journalism’s Ogden Newspapers Seminar Series is bringing witnesses of the online revolution to campus to discuss the role of social media in spreading democracy movements in the Middle East and across the world.

“The Revolution will be Tweeted: Social Media and Free Speech in the Middle East,” a moderated panel discussion, includes international bloggers, activists and entrepreneurs as part of the David C. Hardesty Jr. Festival of Ideas. The panel, which will be webcast, will be held in Morgantown on Tuesday, April 3, at 7:30 p.m. in the Mountainlair Ballrooms.

Journalism school Dean Maryanne Reed will moderate the panel, and WVU Vice President for University Relations Chris Martin will introduce the speakers.

Panelists include:

Andy Carvin, senior strategist for National Public Radio’s social media desk. When a revolution began to spread across the Arab world in the spring of 2011, Carvin gathered, vetted and tweeted the breaking news in real time – from his computer in Washington, D.C. Called the “go-to curator” on Twitter, Carvin has more than 60,000 followers. He is the former director of the Digital Divide Network.

Issandr El Amrani, Cairo-based writer, blogger and consultant. His reporting and commentary on the Middle East and North Africa has appeared in The Economist, London Review of Books, Financial Times, The National, The Guardian, Time and many other publications. He also publishes one of the longest-running blogs in the region, The Arabist.

Jigar Mehta, digital entrepreneur, video journalist and documentary filmmaker. He co-created the crowd-sourced website documentary “18 Days in Egypt,” a collection of stories from revolutionaries across Egypt. Mehta is also the president of the South Asian Journalist Association and co-founder of GroupStream, an online collaborative storytelling platform.

Nasser Weddady, civil rights outreach director at the American Islamic Congress. As one of the few activists working in both the Middle East North Africa region and the United States, Weddady has developed a unique perspective on the global struggle for human and civil rights. He has been published in the International Herald Tribune, Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe and Baltimore Sun; appeared on Hannity & Colmes, BBC World Service, Al Jazeera and Radio Liberty; and testified to Congress’ Human Rights Caucus.

Jillian York, director of international freedom of expression at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. She writes regularly about free expression, politics and the Internet, with particular focus on the Arab world. York is on the board of directors of Global Voices Online and has written for a variety of publications, including Al Jazeera, Al Akhbar, The Guardian, Foreign Policy and Bloomberg.

In keeping with the night’s topic of social media’s communication strengths, WVU will be tweeting throughout the panel discussion. Follow @WVUToday using hashtag #WVUIdeas the night of the panel to be part of the discussion.



CONTACT: Liz Dickinson, writer/editor, Office of University Events

Follow @WVUToday on Twitter.