The opportunities and challenges of using drones for gathering news

David Poulson explains the use of drones in journalism.

David Poulson explains the use of drones in journalism. At right is Bruno Basso, an MSU professor of geological sciences who uses drones for agricultural research. Image: Karessa Weir

Drones are a low cost way of getting news video and photographs to illustrate environmental stories, but journalists need to tread carefully through legal and ethical considerations, a Knight Center faculty member said.
David Poulson, the senior associate director of the Knight Center for Environmental Journalism, was a panelist for a recent discussion on the opportunities and challenges of using the aircraft in a variety of ways. The session was sponsored by Michigan State University’s Environmental Science and Policy Program.
“I can’t write a sentence with that kind of impact,” Poulson said, as he showed aerial images of a controlled prairie fire.
drones3Poulson, who uses drones as part of an environmental reporting class, said that the craft can provide images of landscape scale environmental impacts and had the advantage of shooting from perspectives that are otherwis impossible.
The Knight Center’s Great Lakes Echo environmental news service features many stories about the environmental applications of drones as part of its section on remote sensing.
Also on the panel were Bruno Basso, MSU professor of geological sciences, Hillary Farber, associate professor of law at the University of Massachusetts and Kevin Elliott, an MSU professor of philosopy.
It was organized and moderated by Adam Zwickle, a professor at MSU’s criminal justice department.
More about the panel and video of parts of the presentation are here.