Final Project Outline: Drone Journalism!

Story idea: How will the use of drones and other unmanned technological recording devices impact the world of journalism in the future?

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Which two media forms will you use?

  1. In addition to my traditional blog post, I will utilize data visualization on the development of drone technology. I’ll include a visually appealing timeline with images of drone prototypes over the years, price points, specs like battery life/recording time, etc.


  1. I’ll also try to conduct a poll with Umich students asking them a few questions about privacy concerns involved with drone journalism. I’ll ask if the pros outweigh the cons and other questions regarding unmanned technologies in use today/future predictions.

Interview ideas?

  • WOODTV8 (news anchors/production team)– my local news station in Grand Rapids. They utilize in-air resources like helicopters already, but the budget for those is fairly large. I can ask them if they’ve thought about using drones and what the pros and cons might be (see questions below).


  • Drone Companies: The people responsible for designing and releasing different drone models.

3 questions you will ask in the interviews?


  1. Have you noticed implementation of unmanned recording devices (specifically drones) in the news today? How effective has it appeared to be so far? What stations have you seen utilize them? Do you have future plans to implement them at WOODTV8?
  2. I know you have a helicopter(s) for aerial coverage, police chases and the like. Do you think using drones would be easier? Or has the technology not come far enough along yet? Is it even possible that, one day, drones will replace human journalists? Does this thought scare you?
  3. Do you think that any privacy issues will arise with the use of drones? As far as journalistic consent goes, what are the current policies and what would have to change if drones were implemented on a regular basis?


To Drone companies:

  1. What do you think about your technology eventually being used for journalistic purposes (if it hasn’t been already)? Does it make you nervous? Do you anticipate public backlash or controversy from news outlets using your product to record video? If so, why?
  2. Do you think drone technology has a stigma society today? Often when I hear of people that own drones, I think of the government and rich people who want to show off. Is this just a stereotype? Who makes your target customer base? Are there plans to expand this target market in the future?
  3. What are your assumptions about drone technology in the next ten years? What areas of society will they be used in besides journalism, simple leisure and the military? Elaborate as much as you can.

Additional info that will be useful:

  • seems like the main resource for contacts and updates regarding the use of drones in the news. There are also plenty of sites that sell drones, and these sites have customer service teams that are more than willing to answer questions related to their products.


  • Sites like focus on the latest technology and post articles on drones all the time. These sites target an audience of early adopters and innovators who value revolutionary new technologies like drones.


  • YouTube videos. Drone reviews, prototype runs and the like are scattered all over YouTube. These videos give us a clear idea of where the technology is currently at and what the future holds.

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