The Future of Conflict Journalism: Drones?

Drones could be the next big thing for the journalism industry. Credit: Angels Gate’s from Flickr via Creative Commons License

An article titled “Memo to would-be journalists – get your drone pilots licence” was recently posted on one of the Gardian’s blog, and raises an interesting question: could drones or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs)  be used for conflict journalism?

In the article “Memo to would-be journalists – get your drone pilots licence” author Roy Greenslade discusses the possibility of drones to be used in future journalism stories. The author refers to a similar article, when he mentions that the use of drone in journalism could be widespread in the journalism industry:

“…there are wide-ranging possibilities for the use of drone journalism, such as the coverage of conflicts and environmental disasters, and also sports reporting.”

Arguably such use of drones in situations of conflict to give greater depth to reporting, but what are the dangers or ethical issues of doing such?

Drones similar this hobbyist’s A.R. Parrot drone could be used in the future to redord audio and video for story coverage. Credit: Zoe from Flickr via Creative Commons License

Greenslade also discusses issues with drones and journalism, like how drones can roam freely into public and private domains and thus can potantially fall into a grey area of what’s okay to cover and what is not. In conflict journalism there is also the consideration of the subjects you are covering, and in the age of drones being used for attacks and servallience missions it seems unlikely that people would be open to having drones flying around all the time––especially when they are most vulnerable.

As futuristic as it may seem the use of drones isn’t just being speculated, already large news agencies are looking into way to adapt drones into tools for journalists. Greenslade’s article mentions how the international News Agency Reuters has already held a workshop discussing the use of drones for journalism. With the large news agencies already interested in the application of drones in journalism, it will be interesting to see where the drones will take conflict coverage in the future.

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