Transforming News Through Drones

Drone over the city.
Photo by Allison Jensen

Storytelling, informing, and entertaining is what news can accomplish when pushed to its full potential. In the past five years, news companies have begun utilizing new technology to help them reach this goal- drones. Drones can provide the world with a new perspective, whether it be insight on celebrities, information about social and political issues, or safe footage of natural disasters.

“Refugee Camps are Enormous, and Growing Larger.” a new headline blares. Readers may take one glance, and continue their work, thinking that it is an over-exaggeration. However, one overhead shot of a refugee camp can hook people in and can help them realize the point they are trying to make. Drones can do this efficiently and reasonably. Additionally, a news company may want to do an article on a wildfire. However, in order to acquire images of the fire, they will have to put the photographers in danger, or maybe even give up the project altogether. Yet, a drone can fulfill this need. Flying a drone at an altitude over a wildfire, or any dangerous location can provide quality photos without putting anyone’s life in danger.

In the past, however, news companies have had to rely on other means to gain these crucial shots, such as renting helicopters, or even airplanes. According to Dave Kinney, a professional drone expert, it costs around 2,000- 3,000 dollars to rent a helicopter for an hour. However, a quality drone, with the capability to produce images and videos fit for TV, costs roughly 1,000 dollars, much less than a helicopter, while producing the same results.

So how will drones be used in the future? Kip Wotkyns, a drone expert, believes that we are at only the beginning of drone journalism. He presumes that, in the future, drones will only get cheaper, better, faster, and quicker. Additionally, BBC states that in the future, tiny drones may be used in swarms, to do everything from checking pipelines and monitoring the weather to search and rescue operations.

Drones may be seen as a fun hobby by some, but really, with a little guidance, they can become essentials in the journalism field.