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Drone Journalism

Drone Journalism

 

After reading the story below, please checkout the story on University of Kentucky News site, UKNOW.
 
By McKenna Horsley
 
University of Kentucky journalism students are learning to gather news from a new perspective. 
 
In journalism professor David Stephenson’s drone journalism class, students are learning to use the new technology for news-gathering purposes. By the end of the class, students will be prepared to take the FAA Part 107 drone pilot licensing test and be a future expert on drones in their newsrooms. 
 
“In the past five years, the accessibility of drones has put aerial reporting in the hands of practically any newsroom. They no longer need to hire helicopter or airplane pilots at a rate of hundreds or thousands of dollars per flight,” Stephenson said. “But we also should not overlook the need for proper safety training and licensing.”
 
The class meets twice a week. On the first day, the class reviews FAA regulations that will be on the Part 107 exam. On the second day, Stephenson either teaches about journalistic applications of drones in the field or invites a guest speaker to the class. Guests for the semester have included National Press Photographers Association Legal Counsel Mickey Osterreicher, Poynter Institute ethics expert Al Tompkins, and Lexington Herald-Leader visuals editor Ron Garrison. 
 
The Herald-Leader’s parent company, McClatchy, has trained 43 drone pilots across its papers and has just released its own company-wide drone policy, based on FAA regulations and its own set of policies and ethics. Garrison said using drones in the newsroom is becoming more common. He said for up-and-coming journalists to be familiar with such technology can be a “difference maker” in getting a future job in a newsroom. 
 
"This is another way in which our students can master skills that will prepare them for a variety of careers in news media," said Mike Farrell, interim director of the School of Journalism and Media. "Members of the school's faculty continue to expand our program so that students will be well prepared for the media job market."
 
“I would encourage all digital journalists to have as many storytelling tools in their toolbox as possible,” Garrison said. “An FAA 107 certified job candidate with experience and the ability to fly drones is certainly a skill I would look for on a resume.”
 
Students also meet on Fridays for a flight lab, where they are required to log a certain amount of time at the controls of the department’s DJI Phantom 4 Pro. 
 
Zachary Curry, a media arts and studies and digital media and design senior, said that he decided to take the class because he already had an interest in using drones. He said his favorite part of the class has been the flight labs because “it was nice to finally fly a drone.” 
 
“The opportunity to fly a drone is a more tangible skill than you get in a lot of classes,” Curry said. 
 
Derek Lane, the interim Dean of the College of Communication and Information, said he is enthusiastic about the program and believes drones for journalism “provide an incredibly innovative visual storytelling tool that allow our students to break down physical barriers— especially when telling stories that are only possible when drones are deployed— such as crises and natural disasters.” 
 
Lane added that he is excited that students are learning to operate drones “at the highest levels of safety while respecting privacy and legal boundaries.” 
 
“Ultimately, the primary focus of the student experiences is professional and innovative journalism where storytelling supersedes the technology used to capture the stories,” Lane said. 
 
Stephenson said he expects to have a dozen or more students with their Part 107 licenses by the end of the year who can immediately begin using drones for their productions in other classes, at student publications or for their portfolios.
 
Please click the link to read the  UKNOW Story!