Next generation’s Walter Cronkites won’t be learning the traditional tricks and tips used by the journalists of today. Drones could be the next big tool for newsgathering, and some journalism students are getting hands-on experience already.
Drones aren’t likely to be approved for commercial use for a few more years, but in the meantime hobbyists are free to purchase and assemble small unmanned aerial vehicles that can hoover close to the earth and offer literally a bird’s eye view of the ground. One police department in Colorado has already logged close to 200 hours with their search-and-rescue drones, and the Department of Homeland Security has its own personal fleet for border patrol. But as America enters the dawn of the drone age, will law enforcement agencies be the only ones benefiting from unmanned aerial vehicles?
“In 2015, when the FAA is set to begin to relax its prohibition on use and integrate civilian use of drones, then I would think the first folks in the door would be media because there’s such an obvious use,” Ryan Calo, a law professor at the University of Washington, testified during a Senate hearing earlier this week. Congress is currently trying to put together guidelines for a domestic drone program that will be ready for the big UAV boom expected in just a matter of months, but commercial services and police department won’t be the only ones that will benefit. As Calo explained to Congress, using a drone to gather news is an option not often considered.