Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are a technology now impacting on many fields, including journalism and mass communication. Also referred to as drones, these small remotely-guided aircraft have gained prominence through their increased use in the hunt for Al Qaeda leaders in Afghanistan and Pakistan. With increasingly sophisticated navigation systems and dramatically decreased costs, drones are now being purchased and put to use by commercial organizations and private citizens. Traditional journalists and citizen journalists alike are using drones to obtain aerial footage in a variety of locations around the world. The implications for the field of journalism and mass communication are numerous, with practical, theoretical and ethical dimensions. This paper explores these dimensions using an inductive, qualitative approach. This research paper offers a brief history of UAVs, the results of our canvass of cases that could be categorized as drone journalism, the themes that emerge from this case analysis, and an in-depth look at how this technology impacts on journalism and mass communication. Where this new technology fits within surveillance scholarship is also considered.
Eyewitness reporting, particularly on warfare, environmental disasters, and other dramatic news events, might involve considerable journalistic risk taking. This study investigates in what ways the innovation of drones for journalistic purposes might extend and improve the use of eyewitness accounts, especially in areas or fields where human coverage would be impossible or too dangerous. It examines the interrelationships among new technologies, journalistic innovation, and the audience’s quest for constant visual enforcements, drawing on diffusion theory and social constructivist models for process innovation. It argues that the emergent genre of drone journalism might come to exemplify a “disruptive innovation,” an innovation that has emerged accidentally, but disrupts existing conceptions of visual journalism, and subsequently contributes to the creation of new markets and value networks.
While online and digital technologies have enabled the democratisation of content provision, this also raises issues regarding the veridicality of the documentary as a genre. Where does the authority of online, crowd-sourced documentaries come from? And what expectations do audiences retain regarding the truth claims of digital documentary? With digital technologies offering the opportunity to not only record and upload ‘real’ events as they unfold, but also to manipulate images, questions continue being asked concerning the ethics and politics of such forms of representation. Using 18 Days in Egypt as an example, this essay examines the truth claims of crowd-sourced online documentaries, how these relate to the testimonies provided in such practices of media witnessing, and the underlying geo-politics of knowledge production that has been explored in scholar-activist groups such as Coloniality/Modernity.
This article tracks the evolution of “eyewitnessing” as a journalistic key word. It argues that three dimensions have helped establish eyewitnessing as a way to understand journalism—the eyewitness as report, eyewitness as role, and eyewitness as technology. These dimensions have functioned as different carriers of meaning about journalism over time, establishing a seemingly consensual understanding of journalism and journalistic practice while strengthening journalism’s claim to authority in questionable circumstances.
This paper discusses the various ways in which a community newspaper in Mozambique is creatively appropriating new media technologies to enhance its news production and distribution practices. Far from being backward, the case of @Verdade demonstrates that despite being under-resourced, community newspapers in Africa are catching up in terms of creatively appropriating new media technologies. Besides spawning new ways of practising journalism, this article argues that the pervasiveness of new media technologies in the routines of the @Verdade newsroom has engendered collaborative storytelling while at the same time destabilizing traditional journalism’s ethical practices. Using data drawn from qualitative research, the study discusses how the use of social network sites, the mobile phone as well as the internet in general are aiding @Verdade to generate and engage with news sources as well as deliver content to diverse audiences. Drawing on structuration theory (as modified by Orlikowski) and the sociology of journalism approach, the paper argues that the disruptive impact of new media technologies needs to be understood as a duality of influences—the human agency of individual journalists and owners (internal newsroom creativity) vis-à-vis the wider context of news production (restructuring of journalism practice).