News Nerd Alert: Is There a Role for Drones in Journalism?

Credit: YouTube

Credit: YouTube

I’m a news nerd. I love to delve into the influences that will shape the way people gather, share and consume news in the future. Innovations in consumer technology and the contributions of citizen journalism are fascinating. Lately, I’ve been keeping an eye on the debate over the use of drones to gather video footage. Sure, there was that one guy who lost his drone in a Yellowstone National Park hot spring. Oops! But are they a significant safety risk? And is the heightened concern over privacy real? I tend to believe there are some very practical (and pretty cool) uses for drones in journalism. 

This week, a building in Seattle caught fire in a well populated area. Reporters on the scene shared their stories, with photos, video and interviews. Station helicopters circled the area from a safe distance. And peopled grabbed their phones and began taking and sharing photos and video of the event. Soon, both traditional and social media was full of images from the scene. 

A business owner down the street from the fire sent his drone up into the air and captured aerial footage of what was happening. It’s pretty compelling. Here is GeekWire’s story including the footage. The comments quickly get into speculation about FAA rules and discussion on why newsrooms aren’t already using drones.

CBS shared drone footage to provide context for the size of the pro-democracy protests taking place in Hong Kong. And Wired shared this amazing story on a team that sent a quadcopter above a fiery volcano in Iceland.

In the hands of someone who knows what they're doing, I think there are some pretty amazing opportunities. What’s your take? Tweet me your thoughts at @amricard.