Google purchased the Flourish graphics tool five years ago, and it has evolved into an excellent tool for creating animated charts, maps and other interactives using only a spreadsheet.
The tool includes a paid account for developers to code and add watermarks, but the free version of Flourish meets most newsrooms’ needs.
You can set up a free account at Flourish.studio, then try this exercise to build an interactive line chart of COVID-19 cases by race.
Build the Graphic
- Download the COVID-19 data in this Excel spreadsheet to your desktop and look over the data
- In Flourish, click on the red “NEW” button.
- Select the line chart in the first group of graphic options.
- Make sure you select the “DATA” tab at the top of the interface.
- Hit the “Import Data” button in the upper right, select the illcasesbyrace.csv sheet. If it asks you to make the data public or private, select “public.” You would select private if you were working on a sensitive topic that you could make public later when you’re ready to publish.
- Make sure all of the columns are highlighted in pink or purple. (For instance, it should read B-G in the Categories column rather than default B-G)
- Click on the Preview tab to see what the chart looks like
- In the right column, select the HEADER menu and for Title: type/paste in: Chicago COVID-19 Cases by Ethnicity
- For the Subtitle on the HEADER menu, type/paste in: March 6 through June 6, 2020
- In the Text field on the HEADER menu, type/paste in: Chicago’s Latino community was hardest hit by COVID-19. Note that several positive cases had no ethnicity marked in records.
- OPTIONAL: You can change the title color and center everything by turning on the “Change Title Styles” button, select a color and hit the three-line center button at the top.
- 11.Now go down to the FOOTER menu on the right side of the toolbar. Under source name, paste this: Chicago Department of Public Health. For the source link, paste this raw code into the field: https://data.cityofchicago.org/Health-Human-Services/COVID-19-Daily-Cases-and-Deaths/naz8-j4nc
- In the Notes section of the photo, add Graphic: YOUR NAME
- Hit the Export and Publish button in the upper right and follow the directions to get your link and embed code to post to your website. You also can export static images for print publications, but the quality isn’t great.
Here’s what the chart should look like when finished:
Video: Watch how to create this graphic in this training video from Journalist’s Toolbox:
Quick tip: Most websites have terrible search engines and poor navigation. But Google helps you search within a site with using the search operator site:
Let’s say you want to search for SARS on the CDC.gov website, which has a poor search tool. Just go to Google and type this in the search field: site:cdc.gov SARS
You’ll get a robust results page that includes a SARS subsection, FAQ, timeline and more.
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