On the humble beginnings of the drone journalism movement

Image taken from a recent photo shoot of a modified AR.Drone 2.0.

Image taken from a recent photo shoot of a modified AR.Drone 2.0.

Even though journalists are still taking baby steps into the world of drone journalism (and with increasing success), it's still useful to understand how and why all this began. As I wrote recently for the Center for the Study of the Drone at Bard College, it wasn't just a matter of the technology getting stronger, better, faster. It took the culture of the "maker" movement, along with key political, historical and environmental events, for this idea of drone journalism to take hold:

...a 9.0 magnitude quake struck Japan, killing more than 18,000 people and triggering a tsunami that damaged the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. The United States deployed the Global Hawk unmanned aircraft from Guam to remotely monitor the stability of its reactors with infrared sensors.The Japanese government chose not to release the data that had been collected by the U.S. drone. And yet, there was no shortage of demand among the public for this data.


With help from the international hacker community, Japanese citizens took data gathering into their own hands with Safecast, a project to crowd-source radiation monitoring. At the heart of this effort was inexpensive, versatile, and accessible open-source hardware. Designs, code, and real-time sensor readings were shared freely online.
— http://dronecenter.bard.edu/drone-journalism-revolution/