Journalism’s New ‘Arkansas Soul’ Student Program Creates Microsite for Arkansas Tourism

by | Jul 5, 2019 | Features, Journalism, Outreach & Impact

Arkansas Soul, a new summer media program for minority high school students in the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences’ School of Journalism and Strategic Media, will culminate in the creation of a new Arkansas Tourism microsite.

The free two-week residential summer program started June 16 and brought 12 students to the U of A’s Fayetteville campus to participate in interactive college workshops with faculty. Over the course of the program, the students also traveled to multiple Arkansas cities to explore cultural landmarks, entertainment venues and tourist attractions.

They recorded their experiences for a travel microsite that launched in late June at www.argotsoul.com, which will also be cross-promoted through the Arkansas.com website in a sponsored partnership with Arkansas Tourism.

“Arkansas has so much culture, natural beauty and soul,” said Niketa Reed, teaching assistant professor and Arkansas Soul’s director. “All that’s missing is these students’ stories and perspectives. We wanted to incorporate voices of color, tireless adventurers, culture seekers, trendsetters, change-makers and opportunity builders to help bring more African American and Latinx travelers to our state.”

Reed said the students’ journey began in Northwest Arkansas, before venturing to Central Arkansas and then heading further south to El Dorado.

All of the photos, videos and articles the students created along this journey will be published on the microsite, and the participating students received one-on-one instruction from university professors and media professionals to help them create this content.

The School of Journalism and Strategic Media also plans to select two talented students from the program to receive incoming undergraduate journalism scholarships.

According to the Pew Research Center, minorities make up only 23 percent of the newsroom workforce. “The necessity of getting more people of color involved in journalism is imperative to make newsrooms more diverse and inclusive,” Reed said. “We stand committed to supporting this diversity need in media through the recruitment and media training of students of color in Arkansas.”

Sponsors for the program also include the U of A’s Office for Diversity and Inclusion, the African and African American Studies Program, the Division of Student Affairs, the Office of Undergraduate Admissions, Northwest Arkansas Society of Professional Journalists, and a number of local venues, hotels and restaurants that have donated meals or services for the visiting students.

For more information about Arkansas Soul or to apply to participate next summer, visit www.argotsoul.com.

About Arkansas Tourism: Arkansas Tourism, a division of the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism, strives to expand the economic impact of travel and tourism in the state and enhance the quality of life for all Arkansans. The division manages 14 Arkansas Welcome Centers and employs more than 60 staff members across The Natural State. For more information, visit www.arkansas.com.

About the School of Journalism and Strategic Media: The School of Journalism and Strategic Media in the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Arkansas is dedicated to excellence in teaching, research and media discourse. Students in our journalism degree programs receive instruction, guidance and access to hands-on experience from our seasoned, award-winning faculty and staff. Areas of study include news editorial and reporting, broadcast, public relations, advertising and digital media.

A version of this story also appeared in the U of A’s Newswire publication.

Niketa Reed

Teaching Assistant Professor, 
School of Journalism and Strategic Media 

nsreed@uark.edu