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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.

From the globalization protests of the previous decade to the more recent Occupy Movement, activists have embraced the use of digital video. Many appropriations of the technology, including those by human rights advocates, rest on the theory that ‘seeing is believing’ and understand video to be uniquely suited to forms of truth telling such as witnessing, documenting and reporting. While I encountered such realist uses of video during fieldwork with direct action movements in the former Yugoslavia, activists are also preoccupied with videos depicting the most physical confrontations with the police, videos they sometimes referred to as ‘riot porn’. They engage these videos for the sensory, affective and bodily experiences they facilitate. Indeed, activist practices around and claims for video indicate that they understand video as a technology of the self, using it to forge emotional relationships with activists elsewhere, steel themselves for physical confrontation and cultivate new political desires.

News media are an institution where ritualized journalistic practices govern the production of news content. This study analyzes those practices in a new realm, online video, to assess whether this form of video journalism deviates from traditional standards. A content analysis of 882 videos on YouTube reveals that most news videos adhere to traditional production practices (e.g., editing techniques, audio quality), but break from common content standards (e.g., use of sources, fairness). We find that these more relaxed content practices are rewarded with a higher number of views, while adherence to traditional production practices does not predict popularity. Interestingly, online videos that are repurposed from broadcast platforms experience the greatest spike in viewership when breaking from those standards, suggesting that such deviations in traditional television news are especially valued by audiences. We discuss these results in the context of the possibility of a new set of institutionalized practices and address implications for the current and future state of journalism.

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 site contains anarchist and other videos from around the world. These videos may not necessarly refect the projects and tactics of anarchists in your neighborhood.

Last updated in 2007, a blog tracking of Anarchist Video