TechRaking conference explores drones as media tools

Engineers, journalists and drone enthusiasts gathered in Berkeley, Calif., April 22 to explore how drones can be used in journalism.

Old stories, new perspectives. This is the mantra of Stanford John S. Knight Journalism Fellow Dickens Olewe, especially in regards to drone journalism. Engineers, journalists and drone enthusiasts alike gathered at Golden Gate Fields in Berkeley, Calif., for the ninth TechRaking conference on April 22.

In addition to live drone demonstrations and panel discussions by regulatory experts, conference-goers formed teams and pitched ideas for innovative drone usage.

“We’re talking about exciting applications we can do with this equipment,” Olewe said.

In light of new FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) regulations regarding unmanned aerial vehicles, participants discussed how new laws would affect and possibly limit the use of drones in media. Currently, use of drones by media is not legal and proposed FAA regulations are expected in the fall.

While many panelists brainstormed the wide potential for both recreational and commercial UAV use, others went even further to suggest that drones may become a household appliance in the near future.

“The future of drone journalism is actually boring,” said Matt Waite, University of Nebraska–Lincoln professor and founder of the Drone Journalism Lab. “It is now and it will always be a tool. It’s a tool to tell stories, a tool to gather information.”

The TechRaking conference was hosted by The Center for Investigative Reporting, the News Lab at Google and Stanford University’s John S. Knight Journalism Fellowship program

Editor’s Note: The John S. Knight Journalism Fellowships at Stanford was a sponsor of the TechRaking event. Peninsula Press is a project of the Stanford Journalism Program.

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