|dc.description.abstract||Camera drones (remotely piloted aircrafts or unmanned aerial vehicles) open up new and exciting
possibilities for journalistic newsgathering and video and photo shooting.
The current report describes and analyses the results of the research project called “Drone
Journalism: UtilizingRemotely Piloted Aircrafts (RPA) in Journalistic Purposes”. The project lasted 12
months (1.4.2015-31.3.2016) and was funded by Helsingin Sanomat Foundation. The project was
carried out at the Department of Communication of the University of Jyväskylä. The aim of the project
was to clarify the problems and possibilities of utilizing camera drones for journalistic purposes.
The project focused on: 1) national and international experiences and practices of using camera
drones in newsgathering and story-telling, and the potential and added value of camera drones in
journalism; 2) state of the art of legal and ethical regulation, especially in Finland and the impact of
the regulation on journalistic practices and freedom of expression; 3) mapping the research in ‘drone
Video shootings taken with camera drones first appeared in the news media in 2011 in connection
with the riots in Warsaw and the Occupy Wall Street movement. Since then, the use of camera drones
in journalistic newsgathering has rapidly expanded, and was sufficiently intriguing to suggest a new
kind of journalism was emerging. Practical use and research, however, demonstrate that video- and
photographic material produced using camera drones serves as a complementary tool for journalism.
Still, camera drones have given journalists a new tool that extends their access to places and events,
which to date have been inaccessible or too dangerous for ‘eye witnessing’ from the ground (e.g. large
nature disasters; war zones). Aerial photography enhances TV reporting, documentary making and
breaking news reporting. Technically drone videos and photographs are also used for new ways of
news presentation (e.g. 3D models, virtual reality content). It is quite likely that not all the potentials
of ‘drone journalism’ have been discovered, as for example, experiments for connecting camera
drones to the ‘cloud’ are only at the start stage.
Along with the rapid spread of the civil use of camera drones all over the world, authorities have
started to develop legal and technical regulations concerning the flying camera drones. One kind or
another regulation has appeared in all countries, in which drone flying is allowed. For most part,
these regulations concern air traffic safety issues (e.g. banning flights near airfields or limiting the
height of drone flights). One of the central points concerning regulation is the tension that arises
between journalistic freedom of expression and the authorities’ endeavours in regulating camera
drones’ photo and video shooting. This includes limitations of access to certain places, compulsory
registration of flights, need for obtaining the authorities’ permission etc. In comparison with other
countries, Finland is notable for its highly flexible and non-restrictive regulation that primarily
focuses on safety guarantees.
Using a camera drone presupposes adherence to the same privacy laws and regulations that apply to
traditional photography, and the use of a drone should not needlessly compromise the privacy of
non-public figures. A new ethical question is whether the risk accompanying the use of potentially
harmful vehicle is justified. Journalists have to assess all risk factors when using a camera drone,
especially in conflict zones or other hazardous environments.
Digital technology and software are being developed rapidly and any future changes may alter our
understanding of journalism altogether. The new ways of the use of camera drones will most
probably include the cloud, and new devices and applications, and will probably also change the
actual definition of drones. With the arrival of both the technology and the software that enables the
development of journalism that is impossible to practice without a camera drone, we can possibly
start to speak about dronalism (drone journalism).||