Are Journalists Using Drones Just Because They Can?

With the advancement in technology reaching fields like military, medical and mathematical, it is also important to note the new technology for journalists. Drones are one of the most widely available of these technologies because they can be purchased on Amazon for as little as thirteen dollars. But with technology advancing as quickly as it is, it would be irresponsible to not ask if we should be using drones just because we can.

There are a lot of legal and ethical dilemmas that need to be taken into account before a news organization or a freelance journalist decides to use a drone. Legally, it is very difficult to man a drone. There are a lot of rules and regulations considering safety and privacy that are put into place that people don’t know about and there isn’t any way for the police to make sure these rules are followed. Crashes aren’t uncommon and are a significant issue with drone usage. Because of this, there are places that drones can’t fly such as schools, prisons and airports, but no one has discovered a good way to track down or land drones that enter restricted areas. The problem with advanced technology is that the law doesn’t advance as quickly. Another safety concern is that the laws aren’t international so there are some countries who do not permit any usage of drones and other countries, like the United States, who’s laws aren’t as strict.

There are also ethical concerns with drones that journalists have to worry about as well. The biggest worry that citizens have this century is privacy and how our technology is invading it. Because drones are so available to the public, there is a large issue with the difference between drones for personal use or drones for news purposes and how that can disturb privacy. Ethical issues also include interactions with the law and consider the idea that journalists aren’t allowed in crime scenes for a reason, so would it be fair for a drone manned by a journalist to enter a crime scene?

Despite these cons to drone usage, there are many advantages for journalists to enhance storytelling and reach a bigger audience. In the field of storytelling, drones have the capability to show readers places that they never thought they could go all over the world, but also up close to car accidents or natural disasters so citizens can get a well-rounded story. It also gives a visual aspect to stories that words can’t explain. Drone journalism can be used in fields of journalism like breaking news by giving a bird’s eye view of a story. As print journalism morphs into multimedia journalism, it is very important for news corporations to use technology like drone footage to add a different element to the story. It can also add job openings for people who can code these machines to use them for journalistic purposes.

Drones aren’t only used for journalism. Although drones originally aided in military strikes, they can be used in even the most mundane tasks. Amazon is working on a program that uses drones to send packages. That’s not the proper usage for them, but drones have been used to get a better look at natural disasters like floods and earthquakes. Drones are important because it can ensure the safety of citizens and of journalists because the people can be at a safe distance.

Technology is such an integral part of this century that is important to make sure that if everyone is going to be using it, that it is for a good reason. There are some people that will disagree with the idea that we need to progress and people that want to progress for the sake of progressing. Neither of these are good ways of looking at it. It is important to do research to determine whether or not it is worth spending the money and time to train people to use this new technology and drones aren’t any different.

Drones have some disadvantages that can’t be overlooked regarding safety and privacy and hopefully the law will catch up with these issues. The advantages of drones are not only for journalism but for other fields as well. If the other issues can be resolved, drones could be vital instruments for the new era of journalism.