‘Drone journalism’ is coming to the UK, in perhaps the first event of its kind in Europe (the US is already ahead on this one, with the creation of the Drone Journalism Lab at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s College of Journalism and Mass Communications, led by Matt Waite.)
The Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism (RISJ) will host a workshop on 22nd October to examine the use of drone aircraft in newsgathering and to make recommendations for policy and best practices. The event is co-sponsored by the Programme in Comparative Media Law and Policy at the University of Oxford.
Advances in aviation and electronic control systems are now allowing drone aircraft/UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) to move from military to civilian applications and they have potential uses and benefits for newsgathering by providing aerial platforms for photography and videography. Because of their relatively small size, they are portable and can easily be moved to locations were reporting needs to take place.
Drones will alter aerial newsgathering, which is now done primarily via helicopter and light aircraft, by reducing the cost of operations, making them available to a larger number of news organizations, and increasing the uses of aerial platforms in different types of reporting. Potential uses include traffic observation, crowd observation (events, demonstrations, and civil disorders), observing events and activities in areas where land-based access is restricted, and in both sports and entertainment production.
The development of drone technology and the increasing desire for its use in civilian contexts creates a variety of policy, regulatory, and ethical challenges. This workshop is designed to document the issues and formulate recommendations regarding their deployment in the UK, Europe, and globally and thus influence future policy debates. Policy issues include aviation law, flight regulation, and privacy concerns.
The event is being organised by Prof. Robert G. Picard, Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, University of Oxford, David Goldberg, Centre for Socio-Legal Studies, University of Oxford, and Daniel Bennett, War Studies Department, Kings College London.