CNN Researching Drone Use For Newsgathering

Photo by Don McCullough on Flickr and used here with Creative Commons license.

Drones are just getting their start in the journalism industry, but one media organization wants to lead the pack when it comes to figuring out how to use them for newsgathering. CNNMoney’s Brian Stelter wrote a story yesterday outlining CNN’s plan to partner with the Georgia Institute of Technology on studying drone use.

The “research initiative,” as it’s being called, will begin later this summer, and Stelter reports that the duo will release the data they collect to the Federal Aviation Authority “as it considers regulations that will allow for the safe and effective operation of UAVs by media outlets.”

Given the precariousness of FAA laws and how they translate to the media industry, many news organizations can only dream of using UAVs for news, photo and video collection, but CNN and Georgia Tech’s findings may help pave the way for new FAA drone rules, which are already due by September 2015.

Some of the latest drone journalism research is being done at the University of Missouri’s journalism school as well as the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Drone Journalism Lab, run by professor Matt Waite. Waite has spoken publicly before about the hoops media orgs will have to jump through in order to use drones regularly for news content, calling UAVs “a $500 constitutional challenge in a box,” and he blogs often about FAA developments. While he’s a staunch supporter of drones for producing overhead footage, specifically in the case of natural disasters or fires, he said at this year’s International Symposium on Online Journalism that much more work needs to be done on the actual technology, as drones have very sharp blades and a propensity to crash.

It’s clear we’re in the early days of drone journalism, but I’m excited about the possibilities. We’ll do our best to follow CNN/Georgia Tech Institute’s research here.

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