WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Preventing Journalists from Using Drones

May 20, 2014

The Shop Talk panelists discuss an FAA ban on the use of drones by reporters.  Some journalists believe this is a First Amendment issue.

The Associated Press reported a photographer is appealing a $10,000 fine levied by the FAA after he flew a small drone, and several news organizations have filed a brief to challenge the ban.

The Shop Talk panelists point out media – especially large market TV stations – fly helicopters to gather news.  Panelist Jasmine Crighton said there are regulations for helicopter operators and she thinks similar regulations could be developed for drone operators.

Crighton also said hobbyists are allowed to fly drones so journalists should be given the same opportunity.  She considered drones to be another tool of the trade.

Panelist Lisa Kernek also believes the FAA should establish policies that would allow reporters to use drones. She said the rules could help maintain public safety.

Kernek also pointed out drones can help keep journalists safe by allowing them to gather information from dangerous situations such as the scene of a large fire or explosion.

Panelist Rich Egger expressed concern about media misusing drones, perhaps to spy or snoop, but the other panelists said laws are already in place to protect an individual’s privacy.