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Telling Stories with Sound

About This Course

Sound plays a vital role in online and broadcast journalism, and good audio results from a deliberate process of planning, working in the field and producing in the studio.

"Telling Stories with Sound" covers this process from start to finish, equipping you with the tools needed to gather, process and combine audio, creating effective, memorable narratives.

This course outlines the basics of audio reporting and editing, with an emphasis on finding stories well-suited for audio, eliciting strong interview clips, and gathering interesting and natural ambient sound that sets the scene for the listener. Along the way, you'll collect interview clips and natural sound elements, with a chance to produce your own narrative in the Sound Mixer activity.

In the Overview section, you’ll learn why sound matters and browse a gallery of great audio narratives, with a chance to add your favorite stories. In Planning, you’ll review story ideas and learn the importance of choosing stories that work well in sound; you’ll also rate how suitable our sample stories are as narratives. We’ll also cover how to research a location and pack your gear.

In the Field covers everything you need to know to gather audio on location: from interviewing for sound, to eliminating white noise, to mic selection and placement, to collecting ambient and background sound. In the last section, you’ll see how to bring everything together In the Studio by scriptwriting, recording voiceovers and mixing down the final audio.

What Will I Learn:

Upon completing this course, you will be able to:

  • Identify what stories work well as audio narratives
  • Research locations and those you will interview
  • Prepare for problems in advance
  • Select the right gear for your project
  • Interview for sound
  • Eliminate white noise
  • Use microphones effectively
  • Enhance your productions with ambient sound
  • Write scripts that work for sound
  • Record voiceovers
  • Create a final “mix,” by combining all gathered content

Who should take this course:

Anyone who wants to use audio effectively as a multimedia storytelling tool.

Course Staff

Andrew DeVigal

Andrew DeVigal is the multimedia editor of The New York Times at, where he directs the presentation of audio, graphics and slide shows on the Web.

He previously worked as a designer and producer for The Chicago Tribune and for Knight Ridder's Web sites. Gor four years, he also was an assistant professor of journalism at San Francisco State University, where he taught online journalism and directed the online student newspaper. Additionally, he has been visiting faculty at The Poynter Institute.

As a freelance designer, he has redesigned a number of Web sites, including those of Newsday, The Times Union in Albany and The Honolulu Advertiser. He's also the co-author of “Web Designers' Guide to Typography.” He also built the Web site Interactive Narratives, which tracks the best examples of online journalism and the technical innovations behind them. He also helped conduct the Stanford-Poynter Eyetrack Study (2000) that looked at how readers use news Web sites.

Course Staff Image #2

Casey Frechette

Casey Frechette is an assistant professor in the journalism and media studies department at the University of South Florida, St. Petersburg where he teaches digital media and researches technology, journalism and education.

Casey is a former interactive learning producer with Poynter’s News University and adjunct with Poynter. He also produced multimedia at the University of New Mexico. He has degrees in media arts and computer science, with a concentration in digital audio and video production, and organizational learning and instructional technologies. His dissertation concerns the effects of animated characters in Web-based learning environments.

He is the presenter of several Webinars at NewsU, including Programming for Non-Geeks: Publishing Multimedia on the Web, Programming for Non-Geeks: Easy Interactivity, Programming for Non-Geeks: Essential HTML, Programming for Non-Geeks: The Basics of Using APIs and Programming for Non-Geeks: How to Build and Manage Your Website.

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