As police responded to a deadly car crash, they noticed an increasingly familiar sight: a remote-controlled aircraft, equipped with a video camera, hovering over the wreckage. The Federal Aviation Administration has opened an investigation of the drone, which was used by an on-call employee for a Connecticut television station. The FAA is developing new rules as the technology makes drones far more versatile, but for now operators can run afoul of regulations by using them for commercial purposes, including journalism. The case of the Hartford crash, in which the victim's body was left hanging out of a mangled car, highlights some of the safety, privacy and ethical issues that journalists will wrestle with as interest grows in using drones for newsgathering.
For years, Facebook has sworn by the power of algorithms to serve users a personalized mix of status updates, stories and photos. It's what makes up the heart of the company's premier product, the News Feed. Soon, Facebook will add another approach to delivering the news: Via a new app, humans working for Facebook will start telling you which news stories you should be reading. Over the past few months, Facebook has sought to hire contract editors to staff up Paper, the company's unreleased, Flipboard-like news aggregation mobile app, according to two people familiar with the matter.
At least 70 journalists were killed on the job around the world in 2013, including 29 who died covering the civil war in Syria and 10 slain in Iraq, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. The dead in Syria included a number of citizen journalists working to document combat in their home cities, broadcasters who worked with media outlets affiliated with either the government or the opposition, and a handful of correspondents for the foreign press, including an Al-Jazeera reporter, Mohamed al-Mesalma, who was shot by a sniper. Six journalists died in Egypt. Half of those reporters were killed while reporting an Aug. 14 crackdown by Egyptian security forces on demonstrators protesting the ouster of President Mohamed Morsi.
Drone Journalism Programs at the University of Missouri and the University of Nebraska, which received cease and desist orders from the Federal Aviation Administration last month, are now hopeful they can deploy small, unmanned aircraft for reporting such stories as natural disasters. Both programs were created to teach journalism students how to use drones in their news reporting. Each has applied for permits so they can resume operating the unmanned aircraft outdoors, the Chronicle for Higher Education reported last week. Both programs received the cease-and-desist letters from the FAA.
A young reporter working for an Alabama television station was recently fired for revealing too much information on her personal blog. The story, though missing some details, says a lot about today's news business. Shea Allen, the 20-something female reporter fired, wrote a blog called "Confessions of a Red Headed Reporter" and did some personal YouTube videos. She was quickly creating a signature of her own, something her bosses at WAAY-TV, Channel 31, in Huntsville, Alabama couldn't take.