Interesting post, interesting comments: “There are complex concerns regarding the ethical use of drones, the most important being public safety. There are ways in which drones may become more hazardous than helpful to the public. The operators of these drones have to know what they are doing and no citizens should be harmed in the event of a crash landing or other loss of control. And operators must also be careful to adhere to certain laws when possible.”
Noting reactions to drones for journalism
I’ll admit: I expected privacy concerns. I expected the “OMG the MEDIA has PREDATORS” tweets. And I expected people to ask if they could shoot down a drone over their property.
But I didn’t expect UFOs.
For the record, and in case you don’t click the links, no, there weren’t UFO’s over a protest in Moscow. It was a drone mounted camera. You can read more about that on this very blog here.
It’s easy to dismiss this, but it raises a question of markings. Should journalists clearly mark their tiny aircraft with “PRESS” or something similar? And, how exactly do you do that on such a small craft? It’s easy to brand a news helicopter — plenty of surface area to mark up. However, it’s not so easy to put visible branding or markings on a ultra lightweight RC helicopter. Should you?
— Matt Waite
What is drone journalism?
With the FAA set to open the nation’s airways to civilian unmanned aircraft, the potential uses for drones outside of the military are starting to open up. And that raises a question: Could you do journalism from a drone?
That’s a question we want to try and answer at the Drone Journalism Lab at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s College of Journalism and Mass Communications. We’ve just started the lab and will have our first drone to start testing soon.
So what is drone journalism? Here’s a first crack at trying to define it: Drone journalism is the use of unmanned aircraft to gather photos, video and data for reporting. Between inexpensive RC aircraft with high-definition video cameras mounted to them to sophisticated autonomous aircraft with high-resolution imaging hardware onboard, the applications for reporting on disasters, mass protests and other news events with a large geographic extent are wide open.
You’re already starting to see applications. In Poland, a man mounted a camera to a RC helicopter and gathered images of a protest.
But there’s more. Imagine the reporting potential of more sophisticated platforms like the Gatewing X100.
Questions to be answered that we’re going to explore at the lab:
- How can you do journalism from a drone?
- What are the best practices?
- What are the ethical issues?
- What are the legal issues?
- What are the privacy issues?
- How does drone journalism affect the balance between the public’s right to know and law enforcement or security issues?
Stay tuned. We’re just getting started.
— Matt Waite