Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Joseph M. Moxley, Ph.D.

Co-Major Professor

Joyce R. Walker, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Trey Conner, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Meredith Zoetewey, Ph.D.


activism, citizen journalism, community, oral history, web 2.0


Nearly every website or software application these days features a feed to subscribe to, a network to join, or a social timeline to track—all of which do their part to influence public opinion, promote products, and bring people closer together. Being a blogger since 2003 exposed me to these user-generated trends, but never did I expect my blog space, or any others, to play such an important role in my emotional well-being; not until Hurricane Katrina hit. Sharing my story as a transplanted New Orleanian watching the disaster unfold from afar in a public forum quickly linked me to other local voices, and soon I discovered a burgeoning “Big Easy” blogosphere.

This dissertation thus illustrates how online communications have the ability to evolve into cathartic and socially responsible exchanges during and after times of disaster. Relying on qualitative research methods, I first discuss existing kinds of texts (news reports, comments on news sites, print publications, oral histories, etc.) to offer a picture of how Hurricane Katrina appeared and was treated by various traditional media. I then shift focus to digital spaces, featuring profiles of various New Orleans bloggers that I compiled through a series of interviews and analysis of their perpetual posting of blog entries, photos, videos, and status updates. I conclude their writing is a shared social experience with the Internet offering multiple platforms across which they can resist the debilitating effects of trauma and present their audiences with a deeper, truer understanding of what life is like in post-Katrina New Orleans.