Where to find the best in Flash journalism

Last week a poster on the MediaBistro bulettin boards asked “What place does Flash have in journalism?”

The answer is a pretty big place. Journalists use Flash to create interactive infographics, computer simulations, audio slideshows, games or anything that requires animation. The only problem is the computer program has become such a ubiquitous tool in the industry that many news organizations use Flash for Flash’s sake, rather than using more appropriate media such as video, audio or even flat graphics.

To see Flash done right, check out a few of the sites that are showcasing the extensive possibilities of the medium:

Interactive Narratives

The multimedia stories on Interactive Narratives are all fascinating combinations of audio, video or photos, but some of the best, like Mexico Under Siege, use Flash to take interactive storytelling to a whole new level.

Portfolio.com

The key to good business reporting? It doesn’t have to be boring. The interactive staff at Portfolio.com know this and inject a wink and a smile into what could be a slew of staid infographics.

Swarm Interactive

The crew at Swarm has wrangled hurricanes, captured erupting volcanoes and sunk to the bottom of the ocean, all in the name of interactive journalism. The company produces some of the most thrilling Flash simulations that give users the interactive experience that an ordinary graphic cannot.

The New York Times

The Times is inarguably one of the media companies at the forefront of cutting-edge Flash journalism. Why you say? The paper and its team of developers have created awe-inspiring Flash projects on everything from simple subjects like Mad Magazine fold-ins to complex subjects like the sentiments of 2008 election voters.

Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism

It doesn’t take a team of highly paid developers to put together an amazing Flash project. Heck, if you’re one of the Berkeley students featured on the school’s multimedia site, you may have just flown solo. The site lists a number of stories that exhibit the fundamentals of storytelling and just happen to be created in Flash.

ELPAÍS.com

The Spanish language site brings las noticias to life with interactive stories on subjects ranging from technology and the economy to sports and entertainment.

NPPA Multimedia Contest Winners

The National Press Photographers Association has been holding its monthly multimedia contest for some time now, so, as should be expected, there is some pretty stunning work here. Winning entries run the gamut from audio slideshows to interactive features.

Favourite Website Awards

The FWA site does not specifically feature journalism, but by clicking “category” and selecting “education,” “photography” and “resource & community” you can check out some journalistic applications of Flash, usually from those outside the journalism community.

If you are a Flash novice and want to learn some of the basics of the program, check out the following online resources:

Knight Digital Media Center
Flash Journalism (Mindy McAdams)
Tutorialized
lynda.com

If you’re ready to move on to the more tricky advanced features check out gotoandlearn.com, FlashKit, FlashPerfection, or any of the sites on this long list of Flash tutorial sites.

If you’re a hands on, classroom setting kind of learner, consider enrolling in a Flash course at a local community college. Chances are you’ll walk away with a basic understanding of the program without spending a lot of money.

Side note: I picked up the basic Flash skills in J-School, but quickly forgot them after the semester was over. After I graduated, I picked up a copy of “Flash 8 for Dummies” which put me right back on track. Not only is the book a simple to follow learning tool, but a handy reference guide for the finer points of the program. You can check out some of my Flash work here.

Previously on 10,000 Words:

8 Flash tips and tricks + one big cheat sheet
Be inspired! 12 ways to find the best in data visualization
8 Ways of visualizing the news