New Drone Book Is Essential Reading, According to Review

The book "Responsible Drone Journalism" is out on the shelves, along with a great review fro University of Minnesota.

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"With drones as an everyday feature of life, this accessible book is essential reading for anyone interested in understanding the challenges posed by the arrival of robotics, artificial intelligence, and autonomous agents in journalism. Astrid Gynnild and Turo Uskali’s engaging book considers the fundamental ethical, politico-legal (e.g., privacy) and socio-technical (e.g., surveillance) factors and contexts leading to the emergence and uses of responsible drone journalism. This book offers a useful framework to think about responsible research and innovation in media."

This review is written by Valerie Belair-Gagnon, Director at Minnesota Journalism Center, University of Minnesota.

Camera drones provide unique visual perspectives and add new dimensions to storytelling and accountability in journalism. Simultaneously, the rapidly expanding uses of drones as advanced sensor platforms raise new legislative, ethical and transparency issues. Responsible Drone Journalism investigates the opportunities and dilemmas of using drones for journalistic purposes in a global perspective. Drawing on a framework of responsible research and innovation (RRI), the book explores responsible drone journalism from multiple perspectives, including new cultures of learning, flying in lower airspace, drone education and concerns about autonomous agents and big data surveillance. By widening the discussion of drone journalism, the book is ideal for journalism teachers and students, as well as politicians, lawmakers, drone developers and citizens with an interest in the responsible use of camera drones.


Here are abstracts from the chapters in "Responsible Drone Journalism":


1. What is responsible drone journalism?

By Astrid Gynnild and Turo Uskali

Within the last decade, drones have evolved from primitive toys for activists to amazingly flexible tools for journalists. As airborne sensor platforms, drones equipped with cameras provide unique visual perspectives and add new dimensions to societal transparency and journalistic accountability. Drones can be viewed as the prolonged, digitized eyes of journalism (Gynnild, 2014); they are the robotic servants of tech savvy journalists in the 21st century, with increasing capacity to hunt for the hidden, the dangerous, or the extraordinary news beats that would otherwise have been inaccessible. In this opening chapter, we introduce and explain the rationale for what we have termed responsible drone journalism. Leaning on principles of Responsible Research and Innovation, RRI, the chapter discusses drones as ubiquitous tools in new cultures of learning.


2. The first wave of drone journalism: from activist tool to global game changer

By Astrid Gynnild and Turo Uskali

This chapter provides a global overview of the first wave of camera drones in journalism. With a number of breakthrough news events in 2010-2011, camera drones in a very short time demonstrated potential to become a game changer of visual news coverage globally. A striking feature is the fast pace with which drones were adopted and adapted by activism journalists – across continents and apparently independent of varying legislative regulations. In spite of an aerial roller-coaster of controversial episodes and even total bans in some countries, we propose that the first wave of drone journalism served as a creative outlet for the entrepreneurial potential of innovative news enthusiasts. While media managers were hesitant as no short term market advantages were in sight, the drone pioneers were driven by the weak ties of internet networks and the new cultures of learning by doing and sharing.


3. Dronalism, news gathering protecting and day-to-day norms 

By David Goldberg

Drone journalism – dronalism – advances newsgathering through aerial photojournalism. Because drones are legally defined as aircraft, dronalism in many countries is considered as a commercial use of drones, with the expectation that general aviation regulations are followed – with no exceptions. At the same time, the expanding use of civilian drones raises a host of legislative issues waiting to be resolved. Two under-considered aspects that are focused on in this chapter are a) newsgathering, which protected under Article 10 of the European Convention of Human Rights, Europe’s so-called First Amendment, since even if it is remunerated, dronalism is not a commercial activity, and b) the enforcement of norms, whether by regulators, police or courts, since this is what really matters on a day-to-day basis for operators using their aircraft for dronalism.


4. Transparency or surveillance? Dilemmas of piloting autonomous agents

By Deborah G. Johnson and Astrid Gynnild

This chapter discusses controversial aspects of privacy, transparency, and surveillance in drone journalism. Our point of departure is the options for combining layers of data by using drones as advanced sensor platforms. When journalists systematically merge different kinds of data collected by drones, the activity might resemble surveillance. Depending on the purpose for the data collection, the activity may itself be surveillance -- or surveillance may be a side effect, as when data about the environment includes data about people or individuals as well. In addition to exploring the potential of digital surveillances, this chapter zooms in on the significance of camera drones understood as autonomous agents in journalistic undertakings. Even though unmanned aerial vehicles are often considered autonomous agents similar to autonomous cars and trains, there are always humans operating behind the scenes. So what are the implications of the use of unmanned vehicles in journalism? The chapter investigates the dilemmas of hidden or invisible human agents in journalistic storytelling and how their intent or purpose implemented via drone actions best can be identified and understood.


5. Drones, teaching and the value of the explorative player-coach

By Turo Uskali and Astrid Gynnild

One of the bottlenecks for the adoption of drone journalism in newsrooms has been the lack of adequate education. In this chapter we discuss the role of teachers in the experimentation with new technology in higher education. By first analyzing the experiences of a pioneering Nordic school of journalism, it emerged that an underlying vision of providing drone courses is to foster the building of innovative mindsets among students. Further comparisons with similar approaches elsewhere suggest that dronalism might serve as an eye-opener to the core challenges of news journalism. The hands-on training requires teachers to take on roles as peer-to-peer explorer, gardener, and player-coach.


6. Taking risks with drones: responsible innovation pedaggogy for media education

By Lars Nyre, Frode Guribye and Astrid Gynnild

Are there pedagogical benefits to introducing drones in a practical media course at the university level? This chapter reports from a design experiment where the teachers explore the creative implications of introducing a high-risk technology in media education. A 3DR Solo programmable camera drone was the main tool for exploring new forms of visual imagery in journalism. Qualitative data suggest that the perceived risks of the drone made the students more inventive and daring in their approaches, while teachers and administrators behaved so carefully that the creative momentum was slowed down. Due to the risks involved, the learning process was involuntarily dominated by rule-following. The course was managed according to an emerging approach called responsible innovation pedagogy; and in our version, it combines features from design science and journalism. The chapter first discusses relations between technology, risk, and learning, before explaining how the course functioned as a design experiment, and interpreting the interviews with students, teachers and administrators. In the conclusion, we stipulate four learning principles that should characterize responsible innovation pedagogy.


7. Three scenarios of responsible drone journalism

By Turo Uskali and Astrid Gynnild

In the first chapter of this book we proposed that drones as a disruptive innovation challenge journalism at its roots. The expanding use of advanced sensor platforms prompts complex privacy and accountability issues that concern global society as a whole. Thus, responsible drone journalism deals with issues of ubiquitous surveillance as well as with explorative risk taking and critical questioning. And yet we are only at the beginning of a new era of nano-scale or miniaturization – a megatrend that in itself might overturn current knowledge on farreaching implications of drones in society. Since doing research on drones is hunting a moving target, we turn to futures thinking to discuss what might happen to this technology next. More specifically, we shall briefly sketch out three alternative scenarios that may impact the further development of responsible drone journalism globally. Instead of boxing the scenarios in, we open them up and invite readers of this chapter to start building more drone scenarios that might be particularly relevant in their specific contexts.


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