Drone On: Will TV News Fly Around In A New Way?

TV news gatherers might look to get to a higher level. We are talking drones. But don't call it spying.

One Missouri radio station has gotten a grant to acquire a drone. That's right -- the pilot-less, computer-controlled flight machine that can cause havoc, mayhem, and death in certain parts of the world. But not media death, we guess.

NPR affiliate KBIA's content director Scott Pham told Politico, "A lot of people are predicting that drone technology is going to be really big when commercial and security applications are available. But why can’t citizens and journalists also use this technology to tell stories and discover more about the world around us?"

Privacy issues? We don't know yet. But we hope this station does the right thinking. It says it will.

Pham added, "Because current regulations require drones to stay below 400 feet and away from populated areas, our area of focus will be on rural and environmental stories. We plan to fly only on public lands or in areas where we have explicit permission from the landowners."



On the other hand, another report mused that TV’s celebrity-news-minded “TMS” has considered getting a drone, but that was quickly denied by the syndicated show.

If other news companies buy drones, they would likely save on the cost of helicopters that follow traffic, car chases, fires and criminal activity. It seems drones are just another new technology, but as with any technology, they can be used in many ways and not always how they were intended.

With the ascension of Jeff Zucker to president of CNN Worldwide, some news programming critics believe the veteran network should double-down on efforts to be more of a traditional news channel -- to break more news and not try to outdo the heavily opinionated Fox News and MSNBC.

Will CNN start using the newer technology? Maybe this is what TV Everywhere really means.

3 comments about "Drone On: Will TV News Fly Around In A New Way? ".
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  1. Douglas Ferguson from College of Charleston, November 30, 2012 at 12:45 p.m.

    I have to laugh at the suggestion that Zucker can be a "traditional" news channel, as if that suggests a lack of bias. Without remembering the exact details, I definitely recall years ago that Couric under Zucker's supervision did a political interview on the Today Show in which she was caught using interview questions that were not only verbatim talking points from the DNC, but asked in the same order as the original DNC list distributed to other news outlets, many of whom also posed the questions to parrot the party line. It's one thing to be biased, but even worse to be oblivious to one's bias. Just because NBC is much less biased than MSNBC does not mean that it's unbiased. When TV news was a single-source mainstream event, it was easy to imagine that it was value-neutral.

  2. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, November 30, 2012 at 2:01 p.m.

    I don't know where to begin to expound on why this is such a bad thing. Promises are black holes.

  3. Nicholas Schiavone from Nicholas P. Schiavone, LLC, November 30, 2012 at 2:28 p.m.

    Discretion remains the better part of comments on commentary. Suffice it to say, that "in the future," News will NOT come down just to drones - and groans. Nor will it be determined by consumer "information demand" and branding, as Wayne Friedman wrote on 11.29. Journalistic success that serves the "public interest, convenience and necessity" demands the intelligence, intuition, insight, imagination and integrity of professional journalists who have the courage of their commitments and convictions. To imply the future vitality of TV News has something to do with "Drone Tech" or "New TV News Brands" is part of the same misguided, and perhaps malignant, mindset that is capable of believeing 1) psychiatry can be enhanced through branding (NYTimes Sunday Magazine- and 2) journalism has a "right" to succeed by challenging the Constitutionally-guaranteed Right To Privacy ( with "Hich Tech." Mindless, robotic, drone-like thought (which Heidegger would say is 'thoughtlessness' itself) is the wrong "answer" to an ill-conceived question about what ought to lie ahead for electronic journalism. The future of TV News depends on individual -- and corporate -- character, cognition, creativity and commitment to principle; Not more technical gimmicks like the CNN Holographic Reporter on Election Night 2008. Provide the American Public what it really needs, and deserves, with respect to news and information. The stakes couldn't be higher for our society. And its no time for the science fiction solutions. The Daleks and the Cybermen have a necessary role in the "Doctor Who" narrative (, but it would be a grave error to allow them to become our News Presidents, Producers and Reporters. As "The Doctor" would say: "Allons-y!"

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