By David Poulson
Could drones help break what could be the biggest environmental news story in memory?
An Idaho State University anthropology professor plans to use a drone-mounted video camera to hunt for evidence of Sasquatch.
Why should he have all the fun? Journalists, too, should be looking for ways to use unmanned aircraft as reporting tools as the rules of their peacetime use evolve. That’s the kind of thing we will be exploring this fall in Michigan State University’s JRN 472, Clear eye in the blue sky.
The course offered through MSU’s Knight Center for Environmental Journalism examines technology that extends a reporter’s nose for environmental news. That can be as diverse as satellite imagery, traffic cams, aerial photographs, data from underwater robots, images sent by buoys and signals from wildlife tracking collars.
And, of course, images shot by reporter-controlled drones.
As their price plummets and the technical hurdles ease, these craft are increasingly attractive for newsgatherers, and not just for those seeking Bigfoot. Take, for instance, this image of a river flowing red near a meatpacking company. Wouldn’t that image prompt some interesting questions?
Or how about this prairie fire reported recently by University of Missouri students?
Of course, use of all these devices leads to all kinds of ethical, legal and privacy issues. How should their use be regulated? How can a news organization responsibly use them?
We’ll explore those questions and more as students also produce news for use on the center’s award winning GreatLakesEcho.org.
JRN 472 meets 12:40 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays. Enrollment is limited. Questions? Contact course instructor David Poulson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 517 432 5417.