Mini RC helicopter with built in camera: #bestgiftever? (Taken with instagram)
I posted to my own tumblr a few days ago about a Christmas gift I had gotten—an RC copter with camera. After buzzing around the office with it today and yesterday, I’m pretty sure I could actually use this on assignment. The video quality is low, and indoors I crash quite a bit (see below), but I think I might be able to work it into a project.
Granted, the journalism being done by real drones isn’t being done on a micro-RC copter from Wal-Mart (seriously), but the proliferation of cheap electronics makes me wonder how far off this technology is from being widespread.
It is an interesting notion to think about as drone journalism becomes less speculation and more reality, with legitimate labs and websites (dronejournalism.org, the first professional organization for drone journos) devoted to the practice and development of the burgeoning field.
Its a hotbed of ethical issues as well, with detractors and supporters from all angles debating the idea of reporting from a safe distance versus losing the connection and human angle you can get from good ol fashioned shoe leather journalism. Of course, the fact that drones are most strongly associated with the UAVs used by the military for reconnaissance and airstrikes also clouds the issue.
What are your thoughts on drone journalism? Does it detach the reporter from the essence of what they are covering, or does it provide a safe way to report objectively? Let us know in the comments, tweet @postvideo or @ajchavar, or email aj (dot) chavar (at) wpost (dot) com.
—AJ Chavar/The Washington Post