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Rudman Institute and National Constitution Center to Explore Social Media and Freedom

April 12, 2011

As people around the world watched the protests that toppled Tunisia’s longstanding dictator, 50,000 Facebook members “liked” a post by Google’s Wael Ghonim inviting Egyptians to a similar protest in the streets of Cairo.  How did social media harness the democratic fervor in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and beyond?  How are Facebook, Google, and Twitter changing the global political landscape? The National Constitution Center, in partnership with the Kal and Lucille Rudman Media Production Center at Temple University and the Kal and Lucille Rudman Institute for Entertainment Industry Studies at Drexel University, will explore social media’s role as an accelerant in the push for democracy worldwide during The Rise of Digital Democracy, an interactive program on Tuesday, April 12, 2011 at 6:30 p.m. in the Center’s F.M. Kirby Auditorium.

The panel discussion will include Tony Burman, Al Jazeera’s Head of Strategy for the Americas; Charles Sennott, Executive Editor and co-founder of GlobalPost, an internet journalism site devoted to international newsgathering for the digital age; Susannah Vila, Director of Content and Outreach for; and Nadine Wahab, Administrator of the “We Are All Khaled Said” Facebook page, who will be participating via Skype.  The New York Times’ Jennifer Preston will facilitate the conversation.

The program will conclude with an audience question-and-answer session.  Additional questions for the panelists can be submitted via the Center’s Facebook page and blog, Constitution Daily.  The program will be webcast live at, as well as on and www.drexel/  It also will air at a later date on TUTV, Temple’s cable channel, and DUTV, Drexel’s cable channel.

Admission is FREE, but reservations are required and can be made by calling 215.409.6700 or online at

Tony Burman, Al Jazeera’s Head of Strategy for the Americas, previously served as Managing Director of Al Jazeera English based in Doha, Qatar.  Under his leadership, Al Jazeera English has been widely recognized for its groundbreaking reporting from the Middle East, Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Americas.  While Burman served as Managing Director, the channel received international acclaim for its news and programming, including awards and nominations from the International Emmys, the Monte Carlo Film Festival, and the Royal Television Society. In his prior career with CBC News in Canada that spanned more than three decades, Burman is an award-winning news and documentary producer with field experience in more than 30 countries.

Jennifer Preston is a staff writer at The New York Times, where she covers the intersection of social media with politics, government, business, and real life.  Preston took on this new beat in January 2011, after working as the newsroom's first Social Media Editor, a position in which she helped fellow journalists find the value in social media for reporting, real-time publishing and building community.  A veteran reporter and editor, Preston began her career in Philadelphia at The Bulletin newspaper and the Philadelphia Daily News.  She also serves as an adjunct professor at Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism.

Charles Sennott is the Executive Editor and co-founder of GlobalPost.  He previously served as a foreign correspondent for the Boston Globe, working as Middle East bureau chief from 1997 to 2001 and Europe bureau chief from 2001 to 2005.
Susannah Vila is the Director of Content and Outreach for, a non-profit organization dedicated to identifying, connecting, and supporting youth activists from around the world who use technology to organize for social change.  She oversees the website’s editorial direction, strategy, and training resources, and identifies and trains activists from over 27 countries.  Vila has analyzed the nexus of new technologies, politics, and activism for media outlets such as The Nation magazine, The Huffington Post and PBS’ MediaShift, CNN, FOX News and The New York Times.  She covers the Cuban blogosphere for Global Voices Online.
Nadine Wahab, a public relations professional, was one of the administrators of the “We Are All Khaled Said” Facebook page, along with Google executive Wael Ghonim.  For months before the January 25 revolution, she worked online from her base in Washington, D.C., along with Ghonim and others, using digital technologies to build the infrastructure for this highly effective movement.  Wahab recently moved to Cairo where she is a deputy campaign manager for Mohamed ElBaradei’s presidential bid.

The mission of the Kal & Lucille Rudman Foundation is to support the vital needs of students and educators across the Greater Philadelphia region through innovative academic initiatives focused on Media’s role in society.

The National Constitution Center, located at 525 Arch St. on Philadelphia’s Independence Mall, is an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing public understanding of the U.S. Constitution and the ideas and values it represents.  The Center serves as a museum, an education center, and a forum for debate on constitutional issues.  The museum dramatically tells the story of the
Constitution from Revolutionary times to the present through more than 100 interactive, multimedia exhibits, film, photographs, text, sculpture and artifacts, and features a powerful, award-winning theatrical performance, “Freedom Rising.”  The Center also
houses the Annenberg Center for Education and Outreach, which serves as the hub for
national constitutional education.  Also, as a nonpartisan forum for constitutional discourse, the Center presents – without endorsement – programs that contain diverse viewpoints on a broad range of issues.  For more information, call 215.409.6700 or visit



News media contacts:
Ashley Berke,Director of Public Relations, NCC, 215-409-6693, 
Alex McKechnie,Public Relations Coordinator,215-409-6895,



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