Drone Journalism: CNN closes in on overhead coverage

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It was inevitable. In the endless tumult of competition between news organization for an audience, some are now exploring best practices for journalism drones. That’s right. It’s what’s overhead that counts.

CNN and the Georgia Institute of Technology have formed a joint research initiative to ferret out opportunities that unmanned aerial vehicles - UAVs - present for media organizations. And there are many. Drones can go where most reporters can’t, like a battlefield or wilderness. There are complicated privacy concerns. Then there’s safety issues, now that drones are reported to fall out of the sky on occasion.

“The effort will evaluate the technology, personnel and safety needs to operate effectively in the national air space. CNN and Georgia Tech Research Institute plan to share their research data with the Federal Aviation Authority as it considers regulations that will allow for the safe and effective operation of UAVs by media outlets,” note the network and campus, both based in Atlanta.

“By working cooperatively to share knowledge, we can accelerate the process for CNN and other media organizations to safely integrate this new technology into their coverage plans,” said David Vigilante, CNN’s senior vice president for legal matters.

Drone journalists are already organizing, though. The two-year-old Society for Professional Drone Journalists has 150 members, and claims to be the first international organization “dedicated to establishing the ethical, educational and technological framework for the emerging field of drone journalism.”

They also note: “We develop small unmanned aerial systems for journalists, and explore best practices to deploy them for a variety of reporting needs, including investigative, disaster, weather, sports, and environmental journalism.”

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