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Drones Bringing New Ethical Issues

by on December 3, 2013

As we have discussed in class, journalism ethics is a fluid topic of debate due to the constant changes in technology. Perhaps the most recent technologic advance in journalistic reporting is the use of drones to film and investigate stories. Journalists have used them in disasters like that of the Typhoon in the Philippians. It is easiest to film disasters like these from the air. Drones have also been used to film certain sports and hard to reach wildlife.

For journalists, the possibilities are endless. Being able to film from the air from an unmanned device means really being able to be anywhere at any time. This is both exciting and scary for the future of journalism. While footage of wildlife we may never have been able to experience before is an exciting venture, the thought of using these devices to track certain people is alarming.

There will be a slew of privacy concerns associated with the use of drones to gain footage of noteworthy people, especially celebrities. Technically, no one owns the air so it will be difficult to map out where these droves are violating a private area and where they are not. The idea of these devices hovering outside of windows or through wedding ceremonies is certainty unnerving.

Fortunately for the Kim Kardashians and Beyoncé’s of today; regulations regarding drones are still very strict. The average Joe can’t simply just fire up their drone to go stalk celebrities in the Hollywood hills. The device is allowed in Britain after “extensive testing and several thousand dollars” while in the United States only public entities like law enforcement and military are allowed to use drones. However, many journalists and others are hopeful that these restrictions will be lifted with progression from the Modernization and Reform Act of 2012. Only time will tell how this technology will change the journalistic process and how reporters will handle privacy concerns associated with the new possibilities of air travel.

Read the whole story here:


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  1. This is a relevant story, as Amazon targets drones to carry out deliveries in the near future. People will need to consider drones and their capabilities and risks. Northampton recently issued a resolution calling on the government to stop using drones to kill people, and to stop the privatization of airspace that would allow for drones to stalk celebrities.
    Here is the article

  2. I didn’t realize that journalists were beginning to use drones. Although it would obviously give us more access to different stories, I don’t really like the idea of using unmanned drones doing the reporting on humans.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. The Gambia: Journalists Battle the Dilemma of Ethical Issues | Front Page International
  2. The Gambia: Journalists Contend with Ethical Issues - The Opinions Post

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