Journalist shares insight on Jena Six case

Renowned journalist Jordan Flaherty recalled his experiences of the past half decade to a gathering of students and assorted faculty members in a lecture on Tuesday, Feb. 24, in the Student Union room 223.

Flaherty is best known for his work on the Jena Six case and is widely thought of as one of the first reporters on the case. He is also known for his work on the corruption brought on against New Orleans citizens after Hurricane Katrina. He is also the author of the book “Floodlines,” a combination of his experiences from Hurricane Katrina and the Jena Six.

Flaherty started the lecture off by having all students gather around in a circle and began a “get to know you” session with each member of the crowd.

He then proceeded to talk about his initial foray into journalism. He cited “grassroots journalism,” which is a type of journalistic reporting done by citizens of the public, as the main reason he became a journalist.

He then proceeded to talk of various subjects from “second lines,” a type of party rarely found outside the confines of New Orleans, police brutality in New Orleans and racism in Louisiana in general, before landing on the subject of the Jena Six.

The Jena Six were six young African-American men who were accused of beating up a Caucasian student, and were originally sentenced to the death penalty.

“Jena is a town in northern Louisiana that is about 85 percent white. It’s the town that gave their highest percentage of their vote to David Duke of any parish in the state. It’s a very conservative area, and in many ways is a town divided by race,” said Flaherty.

At the end of his lecture, Flaherty opened the floor to questions and discussion, and talked of the coverage he was the most proud of.

“As I mentioned, I just got started into doing journalism, and someone who was very cynical towards journalism during that Katrina moment, so I feel like I’m always learning things. So I’m most proud of whatever I did a couple months ago,” said Flaherty.

Students left the room with a better understanding of the events that occurred, and what it was like to be a journalist in a situation like that.

“I like the fact ordinary people can get involved; in the sense how people living in New Orleans or like that community, and everyone’s close,” said sophomore sociology major Rachel Krasnoff.