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Are Drones the Next Must-Have Newsroom Tool?

Drones are normally associated with military operations, but RTDNA chairman Vincent Duffy says the unmanned aircraft may also have a place in the future of journalism. Drones can provide aerial pictures and video — like the kind shown in the video above, from Deadline Detroit’s Bill McGraw — for much cheaper than helicopters:

You won’t be able to drop missiles on the broadcast towers of your competition, but you will be able to get amazing pictures and video you can use to supplement your news stories.

Remote controlled flying machines are nothing new, but their capabilities are significantly increasing while their costs are significantly decreasing, and journalists are starting to experiment with the technology.

Scott Pham is in charge of the website for KBIA, the public radio station at the University of Missouri.  He recently received a $25,000 technology grant from the school to develop and explore the journalistic uses of drones.

Pham says the drones can get visuals from places reporters can’t go or reach. For example, he says he wished he had a drone when KBIA was covered the intentional break of the Birds Point Levee in 2011 to save Cairo, Illinois from flooding, and to cover the repairs as well from the air.

RTDNA reports the FAA expects to have drone regulation rules in place by 2015.

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