Drones are cool. They are new and exciting. In the past year, I’ve seen a drone on two separate occasions. The first time was when I was hiking to “figure 8 pools”. Somebody was using the drone to capture the scenery and action from a position impossible to reach on foot. The second time was at a sports event called Inward Bound. The drone was filming the athletes as they ran up to and through the finish line. My simple descriptions, however, do not do justice to the footage or to the potential for drone journalism.
Drones themselves have been around for ages. Originally, because they were so expensive they were only used in areas such as warfare or maybe for the personal pleasure of some magnate. The initial designs were also far too big to be practical for journalists to carry around with them. However, the newest designs are lightweight, portable, cheap and therefore, far more suitable to use everyday.
The potential for drones goes beyond journalism. However, within journalism, there are countless applications for this new technology. In brief, these include safely capturing riots, crime, disasters and war zones. It can also unobtrusively provide footage of wildlife, nature, festivals, sports and local news events. It is revolutionary because it gives audiences a way to see information at a closer level, perhaps of events that they otherwise would not be able to see.
However, like all new technology, especially those that progress more quickly than the law can keep up with, there are a bunch of concerns about using drone technology for journalism.
The main concern is the threat towards individual privacy. High profile individuals, such as celebrities or politicians, may be ruthlessly tracked by Unmanned Aircraft Vehicles (UAVs), unfairly infringing on their personal life. Even the average citizen can relate to this problem, as everyone likes to feel protected, respected and safe in their own home. With todays “nothing-is-private-unless-it’s-secret” mentality, dubbed by Daniel Solove as the “secrecy paradigm”, the decimation of our private lives is a very real and intimidating threat.
The Professional Society for Drone Journalists has come up with a set of ethics to apply when using drones, however, as the use of drones becomes more common, undoubtedly a new series of conundrums and questions will rise to the surface.
For now, it seems as though the drone is irrepressibly flying us into our future.
Maybe one day it will be standard practice for drones to deliver our pizza…. Let me know what you think it will be like in a future of drones in the comments below!