In an attempt to keep pace with rapidly evolving technology, the journalism schools at the University of Missouri and University of Nebraska both offer classes on drone reporting, in spite of the fact that this practice is currently illegal for professional journalists.
Domestic drone regulations in the US are changing quickly. For example the Missouri state government is currently considering a bill that would prohibit the use of drones for agricultural monitoring. Such practices are being championed by companies like Monsanto, which claim that using drones to collect data about crops would reduce operating costs. While drones offer clear advantages for field checks and reporting, a slippery slope of privacy concerns have largely sidelined their use thus far.
In the Drone Journalism Lab at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln started in 2011, and the Missouri Drone Journalism Program at the University of Missouri started this year, students learn how to fly unmanned autonomous vehicles (UAVs), collect video footage and photographs, interpret Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations and grapple with ethical questions. Nebraska’s program is a collaboration between the journalism school, Information Technology program, and radio station KBIA, the local NPR affiliate.
Both schools consider the classes to be experimental and are using the drones for things like water sampling, drought surveillance and controlled fire tracking. Get ready for a descending swarm of over-eager drones reporting from the skies above. [Fast Company]