News yesterday that three BBC journalists were questioned by police for flying a drone at Davos last month followed the arrest in Surrey of a freelance journalist who flew a drone near the scene of a fatal fire.
Here Press Gazette takes a look at the use of journalism drones in the UK and finds how journalists can use them responsibly
UK news organisations from the Telegraph and the BBC to Kent-based local newspaper group News Shopper are making extensive use of aerial drones to capture still and video images.
Are these remote-controlled aircraft the new must-have gadget for the multi-skilled journalist?
Freelance photographer and drone specialist Eddie Mitchell sounds a note of caution.
His tip for visual journalists using drones is to develop a good rapport with local police and fire officers to gain better access to emergency scenes.
Mitchell used his drones to assist the fire service when Eastbourne pier caught fire last July.
But having already spent over £10,000 in a year of using drones – including maintenance and upgrades – he questions their value to other freelances when only about 20 per cent of his photography time is spent using them.
Anyone who flies a drone commercially needs permission from the Civil Aviation Authority as well as training, for which courses start from £1,260.
In addition to the training, Mitchell said a realistic set-up cost would include two professional-quality camera drones at £1,000 each and £1,000 a year for insurance.
He insists on the need for two machines, as they require continual maintenance and repair. When they are needed for work he cannot afford to be let down.
He said: “If you want to spend your redundancy money on getting a drone and all the equipment and then there’s no work, you really are in a pickle.”
The small size of drones allow closer proximity than a helicopter or plane, often producing better results in less time and at a fraction of the cost.
Telegraph visual journalist, Lewis Whyld, has made extensive use of a drone he designed and built himself.
Alan is serial entrepreneur, active angel investor, and a drone enthusiast. He co-founded DRONELIFE.com to address the emerging commercial market for drones and drone technology. Prior to DRONELIFE.com, Alan co-founded Where.com, ThinkingScreen Media, and Nurse.com. Recently, Alan has co-founded Crowditz.com, a leader in Equity Crowdfunding Data, Analytics, and Insights. Alan can be reached at alan(at)dronelife.com