Grady College to host NPPA drone workshop

The University of Georgia Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication partners with The National Press Photographers Association and the Drone Journalism Lab at the University of Nebraska to continue their innovative program to train journalist in using drones, or unmanned aerial systems, for their news coverage.

The program featuring hands-on workshops and flight training is being presented with support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Democracy Fund and First Look Media. Additional funding is being provided by Grady College, the University of Oregon, School of Journalism and Communication, the Cox Institute for Journalism Innovation, Management and Leadership and the Syracuse University Newhouse School of Public Communications.

Participants at the 2017 drone workshops

Grady, home to NPPA, will host the workshops on Oct. 12-14 and will offer training on safe drone operations and information journalists need to study for the Federal Aviation Administrations part 107 Drone Pilot’s Certificate.  The program will also help those needing to go through the recertification process. In addition, the three-day workshops will focus on the ethical issues of drone journalism, community best practices and coordinated operations in a breaking news environment and explore ways drone photography can be used in innovative storytelling. Additional workshops will be held at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln, Nebraska, Sept. 21-23.

NPPA’s legal counsel Mickey H. Osterreicher, who has worked for years speaking on behalf of journalists in support of commonsense federal, state and municipal regulations regarding where and when drone journalists could fly, will lead sessions on the legal issues of drone journalism.

“NPPA has been at the forefront in advocating for the use of drones for newsgathering. With that opportunity comes an inherent role of operating them in a legal, safe and responsible manner,” Osterreicher said. “The legal landscape is especially complex because state and local governments increasingly are imposing their own restrictions on drone flights.”

“It’s one thing to be able to put a drone up in the air, it’s something else entirely to do it in a journalistically-sound way,” said Grady Professor Mark E. Johnson. “It’s critical that journalists understand all the legal and ethical issues before they consider taking the Part 107 exam.”

“As a certified drone pilot, I know how difficult the exam can be for people who have no other pilot training,” said Nebraska’s Matt Waite, who will be instructing at both workshops. “Our goal is to give you the tools and fundamental knowledge you will need to study for and pass the FAA’s test.”

“Drones are purpose-built context machines. They can, in less time and at vastly reduced costs, give a viewer an understanding of the scale and scope of a story unlike anything else journalists have in the toolbox,” said Waite, who has become a leading voice for drone journalism through his work at the University of Nebraska. “Just getting a drone straight up 100 feet in the air has the power to change our understanding of how big, how far, how wide, how massive something is. And it can be done safely and for very little cost.”

The program also will feature hands-on introductory flight training on a variety of platforms. Participation at each hands-on workshop will be limited to the first 60 people to register. To register for the Athens workshop Oct. 12-14, visit the NPPA website.