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Flash and journalism

The following piece is a class assignment for a web design course for journalists at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Flash is not only used to make a website look slick but can better convey news stories on the web.

National Geographic developed a very creative site called Inside 9/11, which uses Flash to better tell complex stories pertaining to September 11th, 2001. 

The page features a section of video archives called “Inside 9/11 Interviews.” When opened, viewers see a display of many photos of people, and a side bar on the left. Site visitors can click people’s images, then watch a video interview of the person and/or read a transcript of the interview, read a short biography, and see suggested interviews. Once a person’s video interview has been watched or clicked on, the thumbnail ‘grays out’ so viewers know what they have or have not clicked. The sidebar lists subjects partaining to 9/11, and when the mouse moves over the subject bar, interviews on the topic are highlighted.

I like the Flash piece because it takes the documentary concept and adapts it to the web. Video clips are archived in an organized yet creative way. It widens the opportunity for telling stories and the news, and, now, a piece of history. It also allows viewers to interact with these archival materials. They can easily choose the subjects they want to learn more about. The information provided shows how people and subject matters are connected providing a timeframe and context, while an emotional stories are also told. Other types of media are much more linear, meaning someone has to read or watch materials from the beginning to the end, where as this Flash site allows people to ‘jump around.’

The site is quite complex and I am not sure how it was made in Flash and/or javascript. It seems the author(s) used a function like in Flash’s ‘button editing mode.’ When the mouse moves over a subject in the sidebar, people related to that subject are highlighted. When the mouse clicks the bar, a sound effect is applied and the interviewees are highlighted in red as the ‘lock into place’ for viewers to click on.

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Filed under Web Design For Journalists