CNN, NYT, & More Taking Flight
 | Unmanned Systems Institute

CNN, NYT, & More Taking Flight

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Major news organizations are exploring UAS’s potential

The race to utilize remote-controlled reporting has picked up speed.

After CNN reached an agreement with the FAA to test UAS in newsgathering efforts on January 12, a group of major media corporations announced it would be doing its own testing in Virginia.

The coalition of media companies (Advance Publications, A.H. Belo, Associated Press, Gannett, Getty Images, NBCUniversal, New York Times, E.W. Scripps Company, Sinclair Broadcast Group, and Washington Post) will conduct testing at Virginia Tech’s FAA-approved test site. Companies will use small UAS in controlled areas to see how they may be implemented in the organizations’ newsgathering efforts.

Although formal regulations and guidelines for commercial UAS use are not expected soon, media companies want to be sure they are prepared to launch when the laws take effect.

CNN will be a step ahead thanks to their Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRDA) with the FAA. The network will expand on its already in progress research with the Georgia Tech Research Institute and aim to produce high-quality video footage for their broadcasts.

When media start integrating UAS into their newsgathering techniques, the demand for UAS-operators will grow even further. “Backpack journalists” that set up their equipment, deliver stories, and edit footage will have another device they need to master. Alternatively, small UAS may allow these journalists to go into the field without heavy camera equipment and rely on the lightweight devices’ cameras to film their entire new segments. This shift would allow journalists to get their stories out that much quicker in an ever growing “who reported it first” news environment.

Media use of UAS will also provide easier coverage of sporting events, traffic reports, and police chases. Instead of using expensive helicopters and blimps that take a great deal of time to get into the air, television networks will have an inexpensive, remote-controlled vehicle in position in a few minutes and give up-to-date coverage with high definition video.

These are only a few ways UAS can transform reporting, especially for broadcast journalism. The biggest media outlets realize the immense potential of UAS and will test it extensively to streamline their processes. Consumers may not notice much of a difference outside of news stories having more aerial shots, but companies will be able to use UAS to deliver news quicker for cheaper.

Regardless of when the FAA passes UAS regulations, you can be sure every major media outlet will be ready to report on it – with plenty of aerial footage.

Gavin Holdgreiwe | Unmanned Systems Institute

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