Past Event

What are the Rules? Digital Media and Citizen Action in #Ferguson

Not long after protests over the shooting of Michael Brown began in Ferguson, MO, online hacktivist collective Anonymous took up the cause. Though its tactics have been polarizing – one member publicly, incorrectly identified the shooter – the group has undeniably impacted the media conversation and the real-world situation in Ferguson. As a computerized voice in a recent Anonymous YouTube post put it, “social media has changed the rules.”

-According to the rules of a democracy, justice is determined by the state and the media’s job is to investigate and inform the citizenry.
-What does the work of Anonymous, and Americans’ response to it, tell us about these ever-changing rules?
-What are the rules in the digital media age?
-How should conflicts between freedom of information and privacy be handled in a world where citizens -at-large can often access information more effectively than traditional journalists?
-What are the ethical considerations under the circumstances?

The Illinois Humanities Council invites you to consider these questions along with panelists Alex Weheliye (Associate Professor of African-American Studies, Northwestern University), Susan Smith Richardson (Editor and Publisher, Chicago Reporter), and Dan O’Neil (Executive Director, Smart Chicago Collective and co-founder of EveryBlock). In a public conversation moderated by Alison Cuddy (Chicago Humanities Festival, formerly of WBEZ), panelists will discuss the relationship between traditional media, digital media, and the complicated ethical realities of citizen activism.


Help shape the conversation:
Tweet us your questions now and during the discussion at @ILHumanities.


If you need a sign interpreter or require other arrangements to fully participate, please call 312.422.5580 at least 72 hours prior to the event. For parking locations near the facility, please visit

For more information, please cal 312.422.5580.