Stories

Drones may soon play bigger role in local news

AP

Journalists within five miles of a major airport will be able to get "instant authorization" to fly drones in controlled airspace, Poynter writes. This is good news for reporters who want to use drones for a birds-eye view of an unfolding story or to monitor areas of interest (a la the aerial photo of Chris Christie on a beach after closing beaches to the public).

Why it matters: "The single largest impediment to journalists using drones for breaking news is access to airspace," Matt Waite, founder of the Drone Journalism Lab at the University of Nebraska, told Poynter. "When it can take months to get approval from the FAA, that just doesn't work for most news uses. This is a giant leap toward drones being a common part of your local news."

  • The FAA is rolling out facility maps that will give pilots a decent idea of whether they'll get waiver approval before requesting.
  • It will start what is called Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability, or LAANC, in select cities such as Cincinnati, Phoenix and Miami. 50 cities will be included by the end of the year.
  • The new process will take into account how much the airspace is, the weather, local restrictions and public safety considerations.