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Beyond Futuristic Cameras
Filming events and producing news with unmanned aerial platforms has been done since the 19th century. But it was only in 2010 that paparazzi applied drones to spy on celebrities and boosted the use of UAS for journalism.
Although limited by many law restrictions, over the past few years drone reporting of news and events has increased rapidly. All over the world media agencies experiment with drones in daily news reports, investigative journalism, documentary making and TV-shows. Being a relatively new technology implicates that the device has to be supervised in terms of safety, privacy and legal issues.
Journalists employ drones for several purposes. Flying drones over specific areas or events enables them to provide accurate and timely reports, to collect data for investigative journalism purposes, to report from disaster locations, to track and report from conflict zones and of course, for paparazzi purposes.
Drones are actually a tool. They do not create a fundamentally new storytelling technique, but provide the possibility to make better and more effective journalism. It opens up perspectives and abilities that were too expensive or complicated to get before.
Drone journalism can be used from a local car crash or house fire reporting to a live video broadcast over a volcano. Drones are most useful are in stories where there is a large spatial extent. When they need to show how far something goes or how wide something extends, a drone is going to be a really useful tool. So natural disasters like hurricanes, floods, wildfires, earthquakes — those are going to be especially useful. Nature and environmental stories are another area drones will be useful for.
The extremely high quality cameras and videos installed on today's drones can map a newsworthy area in a short period of time and produce amazing results. The only drawback is that journalists must know and follow the specific rules and law restrictions in their areas of news coverage.