One of the roadblocks to doing Web-centric, or multimedia, reporting is assembling the content into a well-designed story shell. Most reporters aren't designers, and there's not enough time in the day for a news organization's graphic designers to design every daily or short feature multimedia story. Because of this, news organizations haven't institutionalized Web-centric stories -- they've relegated them to special projects and defaulted to using slide shows or videos for daily or short features, which aren't always the best ways to tell a story.
The reporters at the Ventura County Star faced this issue in 2006, when that organization decided to begin making the transition to a Web-centric newsroom and train all of its reporters and editors (who wanted to) how to do Web-centric stories. For the first four months, they used a very loose template developed by Jane Stevens and Valerie Krist, a graphic designer who teaches at UC Berkeley's Graduate School of Journalism. The reporters were free to play around with the template.
Then the reporters and Stevens sat down and storyboarded six different templates that could accommodate 70 to 80 percent of the breaking news, daily and feature stories they were doing. Val Krist turned the scribbled storyboards into beautiful templates. Jeremy Rue simplified the back-end and wrote up tutorials for their use.
And here they are: "open-source" Flash templates in which you can easily swap out images, videos and audio. We encourage you to download these templates. They're FREE to use. Graphic designers can add a news organization's logo, and begin modifying the templates for a news organization's "look" while maintaining their basic structure and function developed by the reporters. (Flash 8 or CS authoring program is required to edit these templates.)
We're teaching participants in our multimedia reporting workshops how to use these templates. They're amazed at how easy it is to do Web-centric stories, and at the versatility of the templates. They're taking templates home with them to use and to adapt in their news organizations.
Download these templates:
- Four section war template (.fla)
- Three section bottom navigation template (.fla)
- Three predominant sections template (.fla)
(Template previews have been reduced slightly for viewing on this page. Not actual size)
Four section War Template
This template has four sections and a home section that can be viewed by clicking on the top banner of any inside page. It is very image heavy, and would work great with stories that contain lots of visuals. The inside sections can be replaced with FLV videos (Flash videos) or SoundSlides projects. Download the .fla for this template right here.
Four sections text button template
This a new template created by a group of first year student at the UC Berkeley Journalism School. We received some requests about offering a template that doesn't use photos as buttons. This should be a very simple template to update. Only the main background image has to be swapped out, and the text can be changed on each page. The button text can also be changed by double-clicking each button symbol and modifying both the up and over states.
Five stories with three inside sections template (NEW!)
We have added a new template in response to demand for a template that accomodates a page with "inside" sections. This is great if you have two prominent stories with their own section (text or media) and need an inside section with three stories of their own. Click the title to get back to the main page. (NOTE: The preview above has been shrunk to fit this tutorial) Download the .fla for this template right here.
Three section bottom navigation template
This template has three sections and a home button, which can be used to access the opening page. This template requires one main image on the front, and images for each of the buttons. The inside stories can be FLV video (flash video) or SoundSlides projects. Download the .fla for this template right here.
Three predominant sections template
This template has three sections which are largely featured on the home section. It is primarily designed for features on three individuals, but can be modified to accomodate a number of story types. The three front images should be vertical and consistent. The inside stories can be FLV video (flash video) or SoundSlides projects. Download the .fla for this template right here.
Word On The Street, Profiles Template (NEW!)
This is a new template added by popular demand. We had several requests from people wanting a template that can play audio when you click over a person's face. This makes for great features when doing "Word On The Street" type profiles.
The setup is pretty easy. Open the .fla in Flash. In the library, you will see all of the mugshots. You can swap them out with your own pictures, just make sure to size them 60 pixels by 60 pixels. To swap them out, double-click on each of the mug shots in the library and click import on the window that comes up to swap them out for your own. If you are using fewer mugshots, just delete the ones you don't want from the stage.
Next, edit the ActionScript by clicking on the top layer in your timeline and pulling up the actions window (it's under the window menu at the top of the screen. The only part of the script you will need to change is at the very end. This is where you specify the audio files.
(Special thanks to students from the 2008 UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism Advanced Multimedia class for producing this original project.)