Telling Stories with Sound

Course Overview

Telling Stories with Sound
Self-Directed Course
Time Estimate:
This course takes about an hour to complete.

About Self-Directed Courses

In a self-directed course, you can start and stop whenever you like, progressing entirely at your own pace and going back as many times as you want to review the material.

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 Instructors:

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.

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.

Technical Requirements:

For this course you will need to have at least version 8.0 of the Flash plugin installed. For the best experience, we suggest that:

  • PC users use Internet Explorer or Netscape/Mozilla/Firefox
  • Mac users use Netscape/Mozilla/Firefox or Safari
  • You set your monitor resolution to 1024 x 768 or higher
  • You use a high-speed connection

This course contains audio, so please make sure you have your speakers or headphones on.

  • Contributors: Nishat Kurwa, news director, Youth Radio; Sara Harris, The Savvy Traveller; Regina McCombs, The Poynter Institute

  • Senior Producer/Programmer: Casey Frechette

  • Assistant Producer/Programmers: Jennifer Dronkers, Ben Russell, Phil Zepeda
  • Graphic Design: Jen Wallace, Nuria Peña
  • Editor: Vicki Krueger
  • Copy Editor: Christina Rexrode
  • Executive Producer: Howard Finberg