FAA Nixes Drones for Journos

January 22, 2014

Attendees at SEJ's October 2013 Annual Conference in Chattanooga were all abuzz when they saw a demonstration of an inexpensive model helicopter, remotely operated, that could transmit video of what it saw. Such gizmos might count as new media — and certainly have journalistic uses in covering everything from prairie fires to chemical emergencies.

We got so excited about drones in environmental journalism, we published an article about them in the January 15, 2014, issue of SEJournal.

The federal government, which devotes enormous technical resources to spying on its citizens, now says this is illegal.

This month a Federal Aviation Administration spokesperson, Les Dorr, issued the ruling saying there was no grey area: hobbyists can legally fly video drones — no problem. But journalists can not. The FAA press office has spoken.