Laurent Richard

Laurent Richard is a journalist, executive producer of investigative documentaries, founder and executive director of Forbidden Stories.

Laurent is a French award-winning documentary filmmaker, producer, and founder of Forbidden Stories, a global network of journalists whose mission is to pursue the investigations of reporters who have been murdered, jailed or threatened. Richard has directed documentaries for 20 years; he was a Knight-Wallace Fellow in 2017 at the University of Michigan and he was also named European Journalist of the year 2018 by the Prix Europa in Berlin.

Since its creation, Forbidden Stories has won numerous awards including the prestigious “European Press Prize”, two Georges Polk Awards or the “Reporters Without Borders Impact Award” for the “Pegasus Project” published in 2021.

Documentary producer, Laurent Richard has produced, among others, the series “Green Blood” which won the Europa Award for the best European documentary series in 2020 and is currently producing several documentaries for PBS Frontline, BBC and Arte.

To further protect journalists, Laurent Richard has created the Safebox Network, a unique tool that allows the most threatened journalists to protect their ongoing investigations and to let those who would silence them know that they are no longer alone. The launch of Forbidden Stories’ Safebox Network was announced at the 2022 World Press Freedom Day conference in Uruguay. Since then, more than 50 journalists around the world have already protected their investigations using the Safebox Network.

Sandrine Rigaud

Sandrine Rigaud is a French investigative journalist.

Sandrine Rigaud is a French investigative journalist. As editor of Forbidden Stories since 2019, she coordinated the “Pegasus Project” published in July 2021 and the “Cartel Project,” a massive cross-border collaboration to finish the investigations of a murdered Mexican journalist that won a George Polk Award and the Maria Moors Cabot Prize.

Before joining Forbidden Stories, she directed feature length documentaries for French television. Her films have been shortlisted or awarded in multiple festivals, including DIG, Europa, Fipadoc, FIGRA, SeoulEco. She has reported from Tanzania, Uzbekistan, Lebanon, Qatar and Bangladesh.

In 2008, she co-wrote a book on the war of the socialist tenors in France. Of Egyptian origin, she grew up in the Middle East where she still travels regularly.

Neda Noraie-Kia

Neda Noraie-Kia is Head of Migration Policy Europe, Heinrich Böll Stiftung – Office Thessaloniki, Greece.

Neda Noraie-Kia earned her Bachelor degree in Social Sciences and her Master of Arts in International Relations and Development Policy. Between 2015 and 2020 she worked as a researcher and head of office for the spokesperson for migration policy of the Green Group in the German federal parliament (Bundestag). Prior to that she served as advisor to the GIZ (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit) with a focus on peace and conflict resolution and good governance, inter allia in a regional program in the Middle East between 2011 and 2015.

Michael Montgomery

Michael Montgomery is a senior audio producer, reporter and editor at Reveal from the Center for Investigative Reporting.  

Michael has led collaborations with the Associated Press, Frontline and the BBC, among many other news organizations.

Previously, he was a senior reporter with American Public Media and a producer at CBS news.  He began his career in eastern Europe where he covered the fall of communism and wars in former Yugoslavia. His reporting on human rights violations in Kosovo led to multiple criminal prosecutions and sparked the creation of a special war crimes chamber in The Hague. In 2022 his reporting on forced labor in the Dominican sugar industry led the United States to block imports from the country’s top producer.

Montgomery’s honors include Peabody, DuPont, Murrow, Third Coast, IRE and Overseas Press Club awards.  He is a longtime member of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.

Olaya Argüeso Pérez

Olaya Argüeso Pérez is editor-in-chief at CORRECTIV, where she leads the international investigations since 2019. 

Olaya Argüeso Pérez is editor-in-chief at CORRECTIV, where she leads the international investigations since 2019. After more than a decade reporting about economy, business and finance at the most important radio network in Spain (Cadena SER), Olaya decided to expand her expertise into data journalism and joined the Lede Program at Columbia University. After joining CORRECTIV as a reporter, she took part in cross-border investigations like The CumEx Files and Grand Theft Europe, which exposed multi billion tax frauds happening all over Europe. In 2021, together with her colleague Justus von Daniels, she was appointed Editor In Chief of the Year in Germany.

Mar Cabra

Mar Cabra is a Co-founder, chairman of the Board and trainer at The Self-Investigation.

Mar Cabra is a Co-founder, chairman of the Board and trainer at The Self-Investigation. She is a Pulitzer prize-winning journalist, digital wellness educator and Acumen fellow working on raising awareness on how technology is changing the way we interact with ourselves, each other and as a society. She writes a column in Spanish newspaper El Confidencial on this topic. She’s committed to creating a healthier working culture in journalism to prevent others from burning out like she did after leading the technology and data work for the Panama Papers investigation.

Sam Joiner

Sam Joiner leads the visual storytelling team at the Financial Times — an interdisciplinary group of journalists combining data, design, coding and reporting skills.

Sam Joiner leads the visual storytelling team at the Financial Times — an interdisciplinary group of journalists combining data, design, coding and reporting skills. The team focuses on projects where visual elements play an essential role in communicating the story, working on everything from investigations to explainers across news and features.

In 2022 the team won a Press Gazette Future of Media Award for their coverage of the Ukraine war. They have also won multiple awards for The Climate Game.

Sam was previously head of data and digital storytelling at the Times and the Sunday Times.

BIRN Summer School Ends with Investigative Pitches

A week-long training programme in Portoroz ended with participants presenting their investigative story proposals to BIRN editors.

The 12th annual BIRN Summer School of Investigative Reporting ended on August 27with 30 participants from SEE, CE, Ukraine and Finland pitching their investigative story proposals to BIRN editors.

A total of 11 pitches were presented; some focus on country-based issues while the majority are of a cross-border nature. BIRN editors will choose the best pitches, whose owners will receive funding, editorial support and mentoring from BIRN.

Proposed stories look into environmental issues, corruption allegations, reproductive rights and the ongoing war in Ukraine, to name a few.

Ivana Nikolic, in charge of BIRN’s Investigative Reporting Initiative, thanked all the participants for their motivation and hard work during the past week and urged them to keep in touch and collaborate.

Summer School is not only about learning innovative skills and techniques; it is also about networking, making friends and finding partners for your next cross-border story,Nikolic said.

During the week, 30 participants selected from a record-breaking 180 candidates learned about OSINT, database search, digital security, visual storytelling, and financial journalism from award-winning journalists from Germany, the UK, the US and the Balkans.

They also attended a panel discussion about war reporting, giving them a unique opportunity to hear different perspectives and experiences of journalists and filmmakers from Ukraine, Palestine and Serbia. More information about lectures and panels can be found here (

BIRN Summer School Day 5: Visual Evidence and Open Source Research

On the fifth day of BIRN’s Summer School of Investigative Reporting, participants were introduced to open source research and the use of visual evidence in investigating reporting.

The fifth day of BIRN’s Summer School of Investigative Reporting started with Meg Kelly and Sarah Cahlan, visual forensics reporters at the Washington Post, talking about how they use visual evidence in their work.

Cahlan and Kelly explained how they obtain information by submitting a public records request, speaking to witnesses, scrubbing social media, searching Google using all sorts of tools, monitoring satellite imagery, asking photographers to share photos and searching mapping software.

Trying to find where a video was recorded, a journalist should examine the visual and look for landmarks, signs, clothes, environmental features and shop names, the two visual forensics reporters advised. When reverse image searching, it’s important to use multiple engines (Google, Bing, Yandex) as they often provide different results, they added.

Cahlan and Kelly also discussed the basics of open source research and presented how they reported on the killing of Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, American weapons in Yemen and the January 6, 2021 mob attack on the US Capitol building.

The day ended with the journalists working on pitching cross-border investigative stories, which they will present on the sixth and final day of BIRN’s Summer School on Saturday.

BIRN Summer School Day 4: The Art of Visual Storytelling

On the fourth day of BIRN’s Summer School of Investigative Reporting, the participants were introduced to visual storytelling techniques.

The fourth day of BIRN’s Summer School of Investigative Reporting was about visual storytelling. Alexandra Heal, a visual journalism reporter at the Financial Times, talked about her experience of how to combine various sources and visual elements into a multimedia story.

“Just like some of the best investigations start with a simple fact, visuals can be simple, too. They don’t have to be something extraordinary and hard to make. Don’t dismiss something just because it is obvious,” Heal told participants.

Investigative journalists now have to analyse and present a lot of data, so learning visual journalism skills is essential, Heal said. She also highlighted the importance of breaking up long stories with visual elements. Participants discussed when to tell a story visually and what elements to use.

The day ended with the journalists working on pitching cross-border investigative stories.

The Summer School continues on Friday with lessons on how to use visual evidence in investigative reporting.