CNN Pulls a T.G.I.Friday’s, Inks Deal With the FAA to Launch Reporter Drones
Brace yourself for some exploitative coverage if one of them ever crashes.
What does T.G.I.Friday’s have to do with drones, you ask? MORE THAN ONE WOULD THINK.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, CNN has teamed up with the Federal Aviation Administration to incorporate drones into the network’s newsgathering and reporting (but not blogging, right? RIGHT? Tell me a robot won’t take my job!). Senior Vice President of CNN David Vigilante explained,
Our aim is to get beyond hobby-grade equipment and to establish what options are available and workable to produce high-quality video journalism using various types of UAVs and camera setups. Our hope is that these efforts contribute to the development of a vibrant ecosystem where operators of various types and sizes can safely operate in the US airspace.
The CNN/FAA agreement (now being referred to as the Cooperative Research and Development Agreement) will incorporate CNN’s pre-existing collaboration with the Georgia Tech Research Institute to help the FAA decide how best to use drones in journalism. According to FAA administrator Michael Huerta,
Unmanned aircraft offer news organizations significant opportunities. We hope this agreement with CNN and the work we are doing with other news organizations and associations will help safely integrate unmanned newsgathering technology and operating procedures into the National Airspace System.
Greater incorporation of drones into reporting seems like a natural progression of events considering the discussions surrounding free speech and citizen journalism that came to a head last year–imagine if, in addition to the coverage shared over Twitter and Vine from Ferguson in 2014, reporters, protesters or residents had been able to also record from a bird’s-eye view without necessarily putting themselves in even greater physical danger.
That’s not to suggest CNN’s poor coverage of Ferguson would have been any better had a deal been made with the FAA this time last year; but if their drones do wind up setting a precedent, the overall opportunity for networks to get greater coverage without increasing the risk to reporters is definitely exciting. (At least within the U.S.–the implications of using American drones to gather information overseas seem fairly loaded.)
What do you think, friends?