The FAA recently proposed new regulations for the use of unmanned aircraft over U.S. airspace -- and it looks like it could be promising for drone journalism. Missouri School of Journalism professors Earnest Perry, Jamie Grey and Amy Simons discuss the issue on KBIA-FM's media criticism program, "Views of the News."
This will not only be useful for broadcast and photojournalism, but as Perry said, it will be good for strategic communication, advertising, public relations, science, and agriculture.
A concern, though, is privacy. On the ground right now you have rules and laws that prevent a journalist from invading someone’s privacy. Perry said that he does not see what is keeping someone from taking out their gun and shooting down a drone because of invasion of privacy. The rules for drone journalism are still unclear.
Even though rules are still fuzzy, Grey said that journalists have always found a way to adapt to situations and new rules. When live trucks became a “thing”, broadcast journalists had to make sure the situation in which they were going live from was not putting anyone in harm's way.
As Simons pointed out, the new regulations say that you can’t fly it over people who are not in control of it, which would eliminate a drone going over a protest like what was seen in Ferguson, Missouri. Grey said that there are many more uses for drone journalism, such as covering wildfires and the after affects of natural disasters. Perry agreed and mentioned that getting drones to places that are inaccessible will be a huge help to journalism, especially in regards to weather coverage.
In 2013 the Missouri School of Journalism started a drone journalism project, which the FAA eventually shutdown.