Should multimedia journalism students be required to learn Flash animation?

Associated Press has an interactive piece today on the 2012 presidential race. This makes me wonder: shall we require J-students to take courses in Flash animation?

This AP piece is more of an editing work than a reporting work. The creator puts together data visualization, photos and other graphics with an interactive Flash interface. At its core, this is a Flash project. Chances are it was created by an editor and a staff designer, or an editor who can do both news editing and flash animation.

The concern is, if this is something people in the newsroom regularly work on, then shall we make Flash animation a required course for multimedia journalism majors?

Looking at the degree requirements at three universities that offer degrees in multimedia journalism, Arizona State University, University of Denver and University of Texas at El Paso, there is not an explicit Flash course or other animation courses, either as required course or as electives. This seems to suggest that journalism educators do not think animation is a core skill for multimedia journalism students.

In a separate post, I wrote about how a reporter can use a free online tool to create an interactive Flash interface for a multimedia project, without having to learning anything about animation and web design. I created another demo project to explore this tool’s ability to incorporate more multimedia story elements: article, audio clips, video, photo slideshow, and a map.

About Mu Lin

Dr. Mu Lin is a digital journalism professional and educator in New Jersey, United States. Dr. Lin manages an online marketing company. He also manages MulinBlog Online J-School (, a free online journalism training program, which offers courses such as Audio Slideshow Storytelling; Introduction to Social Media Marketing; Writing for the Web; Google Mapping for Communicators; Introduction to Data Visualization; Introduction to Web Metrics and Google Analytics.
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3 Responses to Should multimedia journalism students be required to learn Flash animation?

  1. Check out this similar AP graphic about the Japan earthquake and nuclear disaster:
    If you compare it with the election graphic you linked to, you’ll see how the AP uses a template format to save time and effort with its Flash graphics.

  2. More and more people are viewing news on mobile devices. The iPad, iPhone, Blackberry, and I believe Windows Phone 7 don’t run Flash. Google has announce it will no longer certify Flash on any future versions of Android, something that Adobe says needs to be done. Why on earth would you want someone to learn to use a technology that will be dead in 12-24 months. Learning HTML 5 would be a much better use of their time.

    • mulinblog says:

      True; I already gave up the Flash idea after I found free web authoring tools such as Wix and IM Creator.

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