January 31, 2017

When it comes to flying a drone legally for commercial purposes, the FAA has got you covered. When it comes to flying safely, legally for privacy and ethically, you sort of have to figure it out on your own. Not any more. The Google News Lab, DJI, The Poynter Institute, Drone Journalism Lab and the National Press Photographers Association have all teamed up to teach you some stuff.

Including everything from the basics of drone use, including a bit of a primer for the Part 107 Remote Pilot’s Certificate, weather management and more, the program focuses on safety. More than that, you’ll run through several levels of the emergency, legal, privacy and ethical concerns surrounding journalistic photography, and how to manage it from the sky. Then get some hands-on time to fly a Phantom or the Mavic Pro.

To be clear, this 3 day course, offered in just a few slots around the United States this year, is built as much for news team managers as for pilots. Learning how and when you can fly is perhaps more difficult than actually being able to pilot a drone. Safety is everyone’s concern, obviously, but the legal and perception differences (moral, privacy and ethical,) when a news reporter’s camera is in the air is drastically different than the handheld camera of most media today.

I look forward to seeing these amazing tools at work for the evening news in my area, providing a new perspective, and often a greater overall vision of a situation. Classes are in Georgia in March, New York in April, Wisconsin in June and right here with me in Oregon in August.

For all dates and times, please visit the Poynter website for the drone journalism class here.

Let’s try something new: We are debating attending this class; we are sure we can learn a little, but will be mostly proficient in the legal and moral aspects of flight in the United States by the time the August class rolls around. If you want me to attend, to report back what the class was like and what value you might get from it, let us know in the comments below. Just tell our ‘Editor’ that we should attend, a few requests from you guys and I’m sure I’ll get to go check it out. For you, of course.

Fly safe out there.

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