From the Nominator
In January of 2020, news outlets began covering the troubling emergence of a new virus in China that had killed almost 20 people there and was quickly spreading. On Jan. 22, when Johns Hopkins University’s media relations team learned that an engineering professor had created a tool to track cases of this virus, they immediately saw its potential as a media resource. Within hours, the team had issued an advisory announcing the creation of the C-19 global dashboard, its ability to be embedded onto news websites and the availability of its creator to talk to offer perspective to reporters.
Journalists responded immediately. Within a month, by the time the true global threat of the virus was apparent, data from the Johns Hopkins dashboard had been cited in the media more than 23,000 times. By the end of 2020, media mentions of the university’s data topped 2.1 million. Through the year, in addition to managing countless requests for data and commentary, the media relations team successfully pitched several profiles about the team behind the numbers, resulting in feature stories in CNN, the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, and other outlets. The year closed with the dashboard creator being named one of TIME’s most influential people of 2020.
From the Judges
The pervasiveness of the tracker in the media is compelling enough, but landing multiple profiles of the people behind the tracker was truly impressive.