Flourish: Online tool for data visualization

“An easy-to-use tool for beautiful data visualization and storytelling.”

[Author’s note: This article originally appeared in the winter 2020 issue of Communication: Journalism Education Today, vol. 54, no. 2. It appears here to facilitate using the extensive number of external links in the story.]

Peter Bobkowski, an associate professor at the University of Kansas, cut straight to the point. “It used to be that data were the purview of specialists,” he said at the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication virtual conference in August. “These days, everybody needs to be a numbers specialist.”

Indeed, he said, in times of a pandemic with data coming from federal agencies, state agencies, county departments and school districts, “Each one of us sort of feels like we need to be a data specialist.”

To help students analyze data, Bobkowski and Nicole-Marie Konopelko, a senior at the University of Kansas, introduced Flourish, an online tool for data presentation.

At the AEJMC Scholastic Journalism Division Teach-in, Konopelko said, “It’s a really simple tool that you can use to improve your students’ work.”

The website for the software describes it as “an easy-to-use tool for beautiful data visualization and storytelling.”

In a Feb. 14 article by Allen Hillery on Nightingale, the journal of the Data Visualization Society, Flourish co-founder Duncan Clark said four key principles differentiate Flourish:

  • Storytelling — Support for animations and narratives in addition to simpler charts and maps.
  • Ease of use — No special technical skill is required from users.
  • Flexibility — Any developer can add new templates with no limitation on the design and functionality.
  • Web — Fully responsive for mobile and robust for massive audiences.

Bobkowski said, “I like this tool because it’s so clean and intuitive. You can’t screw it up too much.”

The story featured a graphic by Mori Ono, a senior at Community High School (Ann Arbor, Michigan), a graphic that won top honors from the National Scholastic Press Association.

Michigan COVID
COVID-19 in Michigan after March 17

In addition to the graphic by Ono, the article in the winter 2020 issue of Communication: Journalism Education Today referenced a number of sample graphics produced using Flourish. Links to them are below.

Climate change
Climate Change: How Hot Will It Get in My Lifetime?
Top 20 emitters in 1913
Interactive: Carbon Emissions Past, Present and Future
UK 2019 general election results
UK 2019 general election results
Your name
How Popular Was Your Name
significant earthquakes
Significant Earthquakes Since 1901
Top candidates
Top Candidates for the 2020 Democratic Presidential Nomination
European parliament
European Parliament, 2014

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