The Poynter Institute, Google News Lab, Drone Journalism Lab, National Press Photographers Association and DJI have unveiled an innovative program to train journalists in using drones, or unmanned aerial systems, for their news coverage. The program, which features hands-on workshops and online teaching, is powered by the Google News Lab.
Hands-on workshops, offered from March to August at universities from coast to coast, will offer training on safe drone operations as well as information that drone pilots need to study for the Federal Aviation Administration’s new Part 107 Drone Pilot’s Certificate. In addition, the three-day workshops will focus on the legal and ethical issues of drone journalism, community best practices and coordinated operations in a breaking news environment, as well as explore ways drone photography can be used in innovative storytelling.
“As a certified drone pilot myself, I know how difficult the exam can be for people who have no other pilot training,” said Poynter’s Al Tompkins, who is organizing the workshops. “Our goal is not to make you ‘test-ready’ but to show you what will be on the exam and to give you the fundamental knowledge you will need to study for the test.”
“We’re dedicated to supporting journalists’ experimentation with new technology,” said Erica Anderson of Google News Lab. “Drones present an opportunity for journalists to tell stories in visually rich and immersive ways, but there are still many open questions on how to apply them safely, ethically and creatively for news reporting. We couldn’t be more pleased to partner with The Poynter Institute on the drone journalism program to help tackle these challenges.”
Poynter will be leading these workshops in partnership with the Drone Journalism Lab at the University of Nebraska, the National Press Photographers Association (NPPA), the Google News Lab and DJI. Additional online training will be available later this year via Poynter’s e-learning platform, News University.
“Drones are purpose-built context machines. They can, in less time and at vastly reduced costs, give a viewer an understanding of the scale and scope of a story unlike anything else journalists have in the toolbox,” said the Drone Journalism Lab’s Matt Waite, who has become a leading voice for drone journalism through his work at the University of Nebraska. “Just getting a drone straight up 100 feet in the air has the power to change our understanding of how big, how far, how wide, how massive something is. And it can be done safely and for very little cost.”
The workshops also will include NPPA’s legal counsel Mickey H. Osterreicher, who has worked for years speaking on behalf of journalists as the federal government drafted regulations for where and when drone journalists could fly.
“NPPA has been at the forefront in advocating for the use of drones for newsgathering. With that opportunity comes an inherent role of operating them in a legal, safe and responsible manner,” Osterreicher said. “The legal landscape is especially complex because state and local governments increasingly are imposing their own restrictions on drone flights.”
The program also will feature hands-on introductory flight training sponsored by DJI, the global leader in drone technology and 2016 winner of NPPA’s Lemen award for technology innovation in photojournalism. “We are thrilled to join with Poynter to empower journalists with state-of-the-art technology that inspires innovative storytelling,” said DJI policy lead Jon Resnick.
Four universities are serving as hosts and partners for these workshops: the University of Georgia Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, March 17-19; Syracuse University Newhouse School of Public Communications, April 21-23; University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Journalism and Mass Communication, June 16-18; and the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication in Portland, Aug. 18-20.
In addition, the Google News Lab will support a limited number of travel scholarships for members of the National Association of Black Journalists, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, the Asian American Journalists Association, Native American Journalists Association and NLGJA, the Association of LGBTQ journalists.
Participation at each hands-on workshop will be limited to the first 60 people to register. Workshop details are available at http://about.poynter.org/