As unmanned aerial vehicle technology improves and federal airway regulations are refined, UAVs could become another tool for industrious journalists. UNL research has the potential to offer journalists guidance for navigating the practical, ethical and legal considerations of using pilotless aircraft for news reporting.
“Drone journalism” holds promise as a safer, more affordable way to capture news footage in locations where access is dangerous or difficult, including war zones and natural disaster areas. However, timeliness, reliability and privacy remain concerns.
UNL journalism professor of practice Matthew Waite is exploring these issues. In fall 2011, he founded the Drone Journalism Lab, which brings together faculty and students to study how journalists can safely and responsibly use UAVs for newsgathering. The lab’s goal is to study potential uses for UAVs and outline an ethical framework for drone journalism.
“We can help the journalism industry determine what are good uses and what are bad uses, so when it’s time to make a decision, it’s based on findings and research instead of ignorance,” Waite said.