Sound Reporting Co-lab

A media support initiative for sound and science based storytelling

Home Projects Sound Reporting Co-Lab: A Media Support Initiative for Sound and Science-based Storytelling

Sound Reporting Co-Lab is a 6-month media support programme that helps 10 journalists from 6 media based in Europe and US produce sound-based stories around climate change impacts on forests, biodiversity and local communities.

The Sound Reporting Co-lab offers scientific and technical support for the selected journalists who would like to explore the power of sound in our nature, and develop a science-based bioacoustic story.

Based on the learnings from Lookout360 Accelerator, a 2018 media support programme of the Lookout Station that helped 12 journalists master 360 video stories on climate change, the Co-lab offers:


A total of 10 journalists and producers working for 6 media houses are invited to a in-field bootcamp on 11-12 July 2019 in Poland. The bootcamp focuses on the bark beetle spread that is transforming not only our ecological systems, but also social and industrial systems in the Northern hemisphere. Putting a spotlight on the bark beetle infestation as a case study, the group will not only decode the complex scientific insights and evidences by meeting and speaking to the scientists with opposing points of view, but also master the science-based sound storytelling techniques that are unique to NPR's science programmes. The group will meet in Bialowieza forest, one of the disputed forests in Europe, to dig deeper into the intersection of climate change impacts and bark beetles infestation through the diverse lenses of scientific discplines such as entomology, ornithology, ecology, forest science, and anthropology. 


After the bootcamp in Bialowieza, Poland, the Co-lab will continue to help 10 journalists develop and publish a sound and science based story, by exploring the possible stories, using the bark beetle infestation as a starting line for research. The journalists will get both group and one-on-one support to produce a sound and science based story within 6 months. During this period, the journalists will also get the opportunity to connect with scientists and experts from various research organisations, including an online session with the researchers from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology who are conducting the bioacoustics research using Swift, a newly developed terrestrial autonomous recording unit.


The final projects will be showcased at international journalism and science events all across the world.


Bill McQuay

Bill McQuay is a multi-award winning audio producer and sound engineer whose work with NPR and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology has been honored with a Grammy Award, the National Academy of Sciences Science Communication Award and Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University journalism award and others. He is the founder of Eco Location Sound

Dr. Laurel Symes

Laurel Symes is Assistant Director of the Bioacoustics Research Program at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Her research focuses on understanding how communication and decision-making is shaped by ecology and evolution. In addition to her many scientific publications Symes’s work has been featured in stories on NPR’s prime time news magazines Morning Edition and All Things Considered and KBOO radio. She was a featured scientist and consultant on the award winning NPR series Close Listening: Decoding Nature Through Sound. 

Christopher Joyce

Christopher Joyce is an award winning correspondent on the science desk at NPR. In addition to sharing with McQuay the National Academy of Sciences Science Communication Award and Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University journalism award, Joyce’s stories on forensic investigations into massacres in Kosovo and Bosnia won an Overseas Press Club award. In addition, Joyce has written two non-fiction books on scientific topics for the popular market.

Why Sound?

The Sound Reporting Co-Lab focuses on bioacoustics because it has a huge potential in engaging with the public in a whole new way through videos, radio shows, podcasts and even smart speakers. 

Hearing is our emotional rapid response system. Human reaction time to sound is faster than what we see. It is our most immersive sense. Good sound-based storytelling can transform a listener’s experience into something that is immediate and personal. Because sound is an immersive experience, more directly hardwired to our emotions than vision, it is the most effective way of creating the feeling of being in a place. We may be sitting on a bus but we feel that we are in the forest when we hear leaves rustle in the wind and feel the motion of birds in flight as their calls cross from one side of our headphones to the other.

Due to the emerging new technologies and devices, it is a great moment to explore the power of sound in various types and formats of reporting. We specifically seek media houses who are interested or already have plans to implement sound reporting, either through podcasts or video, interactive or smart speakers.

Why “Bark Beetle Outbreaks”?

The forest pests infestation has now become a global problem. Especially the spread of bark beetle is  affecting forests in not only North America, but also many European countries including Germany, UK, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Poland. 

The increased scale of the outbreaks is due to change in climate, land use and global distributions of organisms, including propagation of monocultures of non-native tree species. Evidence is indicating that the scale of the outbreaks has increased, as well as having moved to areas where outbreaks have not been recorded before. The consequences of the outbreaks have significant ecological, economic and social consequences, putting the forests, biodiversity and communities at risk.


Andreas von Bubnoff is an award-winning science journalist and multimedia producer, as well as a professor at Rhine-Waal University in Germany. His work has appeared in the anthologies Alice and Bob Meet the Wall of Fire (MIT Press, 2018) and The Best American Science and Nature Writing; in many American and European media outlets and on RiffReporter, where he is a member of the Anthropocene team.  Important multimedia projects include the VR project "Songbird" (The Guardian, 2018), and "Symphonien der Natur" (FAZ, 2015), a multimedia journey around the globe featuring its soundscapes that shows how natural sounds are increasingly lost as a result of human activity. Honors for his multimedia projects include winning the German Grimme Online Award, nominations for the GOLDENE KAMERA Digital Award and the Georg von Holzbrinck science journalism award, and being named an official Webby Award honoree.

Anne Preger is a German science journalist. At Riffreporter she reports on environmental topics. Apart from that she also works for public broadcasters like WDR and Deutschlandfunk Nova doing everything from hourly science radio news to live talks and radio documentaries. Anne has a degree in Geoecology and worked as a soil scientist before leaving science for a radio/online/TV traineeship at WDR. After five years as a staff editor & reporter at WDR Anne decided to go freelancing in 2014. In 2016 Anne won the Award for Environmental Reporting by Environmental Action Germany. 

Some of Anne’s work: 'The forgotten oil spill' (Riffreporter), 'Follow me onto a cargo ship and listen how the MARPOL convention helps to safe oceans from ship pollution' (Radio documentary, WDR ZeitZeichen) and 'Listen how scientists wire meerkats in the Kalahari to find out more about their communication' (Radio documentary and gallery on WDR 5 science program) Twitter:@apreger 

Eva Wolfangel is a German science journalist, focusing on future technologies such as artificial intelligence and virtual reality, computer science, data journalism, interaction between digital and real worlds, and space travel. She writes for major magazines and newspapers in Germany and Switzerland — including ZEIT, Geo, Spiegel, and NZZ — and produces radio features. After several years as an editor, she became a freelance journalist in 2008. Eva’s specialty is to combine creative writing and technical topics in order to reach a broad audience. In 2018 she was named European Science Writer of the Year by the Association of British Science Writers. 

Jan Cibulka is a data journalist at Czech Radio. He is also a GIS analyst, Python programmer, FOIA advocate at work, and birder in free time. He has run a number of innovation projects at Czech Radio project including this one to explain physical abilities of best Czech (and probably worlds) boulder climber Adam Ondra, by using the motion capture technology to reconstruct and visualize his skeleton when climbing, also we used some sport testing technology to describe his heart rate, strength and oxygen consumption; this story on the loss of biodiversity due to Czech practice in farming; and this one on the controversy on high priced weather data in Czech Republic. 


Vojtěch Koval is a reporter for the Czech radio, only public radio in Czech republic. Two year ago he and his team prepared a miniserie about the top medicine in Czech republic and the reaction was very positive - both from the doctor etc. and from our audience and we realised we want to have some kind of "expert" how on our radio. So in january 2018 we started  science & technology show called "Experiment" - we try to cover a wide range of topics from medicine through industry 4.0, AR+VR, innovations, startups etc. Last few months I covered lo some topic from "radio" world, such as the future of DAB or atomised news, so this workshop about different ways of storytelling using different approach to sound recording which is a highly interest for him. 

Simone Eleveld is a Dutch journalist, podcast maker and multimedia producer for Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant. She is the co-host, editor and producer of science podcast ‘De Grote Vragen Podcast’ and producer and editor of ‘Van Twee Kanten’, a podcast that tells love stories from both sides. She has produced audio for several multimedia productions for the newspaper’s crossmedia desk, such as the VR installation ‘Over Grenzen’. In 2015 she released her documentary debut Urban Tides, a film that investigates the impact of bottom up communities on city development. The film enjoyed a long festival tour, often combining screenings with lectures and debates organized by bottom up communities throughout Europe.


Cormac O’Brien has been working across film, journalism and factual television for the past 10 years, creating pop-television, art-film, human rights film, observational documentary and print publishing. With a focus on LGBT issues and human rights, he currently works in Thomson Reuters Foundation on their Multimedia team; shooting, editing and producing short video documentary and social video, while also working across special projects and photography. His previous work includes stints at the Overseas Development Institute where he was part of the Design and Publications team; busy media company TCOLondon, home of film magazine Little White Lies, alternative culture bi-monthly HUCK magazine and the 71a Gallery; POP4 (Irish language channel TG4s pop television show); tech innovation festival ‘Digital Biscuit’ (for the Screen Directors Guild of Ireland); Liz Mermin’s (Horses, Amazing Azerbaijan and CERN People); as well as video art that’s been shown at the Irish Museum of Modern Art and the Palais de Tokyo, Paris. 


Anna Górnicka is the co-founder of and a journalist, editor, communications specialist. Anna worked in “Wprost” weekly, PWN Publishing House, Sage, and PZU. She studied journalism, social communications, political marketing, and editing. Together with Jakub, she created a top-rated blog about travelling called Podróż 


Marcin Suder is a photographer and photojournalist. Marcin has been working for the Corbis agency for many years. He also collaborated with NGOs such as Unicef and UNDP. He worked in more than dozens of countries and was published in the world’s most renewed magazines, newspapers and portals.

Jakub Górnicki is the co-founder of, and also a blogger and reporter, passionate about new media, interactive storytelling and reporting projects. He studied journalism at Warsaw University, specialised in Reportage Laboratory. He started Outriders to bridge cultures and societies by original reporting and providing a global perspective through innovative storytelling. As a C.O and board member of ePaństwo Foundation, he developed it into a global leading open data/transparency NGO. He started Code for Poland, worked there for six years and transformed it into Code for All together with Code for America. Jakub was named a 2014 New Europe Challenger.

Peter Mellgard is a features editor at The WorldPost, a partnership project between The Washington Post and the Berggruen Institute, where most of his work focuses on climate change and natural resources. He was previously a reporter and editor on the foreign desk at the Huffington Post. In 2014 he was an Arthur F. Burns Fellow at Süddeutsche Zeitung in Munich.

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