Alternative story forms, charts and data maps using Flourish

We strongly discourage students from uploading infographics and other alternative story forms (ASFs) made in InDesign, Illustrator and other print-centric software for use on the Spartan Newsroom site. If you have not received special training, these files likely are not optimized for the web, will not be easily viewable on mobile devices and will not be useable by viewers with a visual disability.

Instead, we encourage students to create ASFs either directly in a WordPress post or via the web-based infographic tool Flourish. Infographics created in Flourish can be embedded directly into a Spartan Newsroom article.

Other online tools can be used, but information graphics should rarely, if ever, be inserted into articles as image files. Instead, they should be embedded from digital infographic platforms.

Introduction to Flourish

There are many options for tools to make data visualizations, including charts. Some popular tools include and Canva. Even Google Spreadsheets, Excel, PowerPoint and Keynote will allow you to make charts — although these charts rarely are optimized for use on a news website like Spartan Newsroom.

For Spartan Newsroom, we highly recommend Flourish. Flourish makes beautiful and powerful data visualizations, including data maps, that embed easily onto websites and can even be downloaded as image files for use in print. That gives it more flexibility than many of the other tools listed above.

The one potential down side for the free version of Flourish is that the data your use and your charts become publicly available. That’s not a problem for many journalistic uses because the point is to make data available to the public. But you wouldn’t want to use Flourish to make data visualizations with any kind of proprietary information that you want to keep secret.

Below is a video put together by professor Jeremy Steele introducing Flourish to students in JRN 203.

And here’s a lesson about Flourish data visualizations from the Google News Initiative.