University of Arkansas journalism program to run ArkansasCovid.com

Northwest Arkansas News

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — The University of Arkansas’ School of Journalism and Strategic Media will take over management and operations of ArkansasCovid.com, the university announced in a release on Thursday.

Founded by Misty Orpin, a journalist, small business owner and mother of two, Arkansascovid.com began as a personal project in March and quickly gained widespread acclaim for its “colorful data visualizations, frequent Twitter updates and Orpin’s incisive analysis.”

In May, Orpin, working in partnership with Rob Wells, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Journalism, added an intern from the University of Arkansas to assist with the daily production of demographic data.

As the website’s workload grew, Orpin asked the School of Journalism to operate ArkansasCovid.com full-time.

The Journalism School will devote a “mix of graduate students and students in Wells’ data journalism class to operate Arkansascovid.com, providing students an extraordinary opportunity to work with a real time data journalism website.”

The transition is set to be finalized on September 14, and Orpin will continue to provide analysis and commentary “as needed.”

“I’ve been so gratified at the way the community has embraced this platform and created a welcoming space to share information about Covid in our state,” Orpin said. “Its growth in the past few months wouldn’t have been possible without help from the partnership with the UA. I’m thrilled to be handing it off to the UA team, in whom I have utmost confidence to shepherd it to even greater usefulness for everyday Arkansans.”

What is ArkansasCovid.com?

The core goals for Arkansas Covid are:

  • Provide reliable, county-level Covid-19 data to help Arkansans make informed decisions for themselves and their families
  • Fact-check data being presented by state, media and other sources to ensure it’s both accurate and showing a complete picture
  • Be available and responsive to questions from individuals seeking data-related information
  • Make information easy to access and easy to digest through simple visualizations and clear, concise facts
  • Be as apolitical as possible. The platform doesn’t comment on reopening politics, Covid issues beyond infection-related data, or what’s happening outside of Arkansas (unless directly related).
  • Push for increased testing. Every data point used is completely reliant on a positive or negative Covid test. Without reliable testing, there is no reliable data.

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