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CNN got a permit to research using drones in its journalism, Gizmodo reported.

CNN announced its “research agreement with the FAA” in a Jan. 12 press statement on its website.  “CNN has entered into a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRDA) with the Federal Aviation Administration to advance efforts to integrate Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) into newsgathering and reporting,” the press statement reads.

“Our aim is to get beyond hobby-grade equipment and to establish what options are available and workable to produce high quality video journalism using various types of UAVs and camera setups,” CNN Senior Vice President David Vigilante is quoted as saying in the press statement.

Columbia Journalism Review noted that CNN won’t be reporting using drones quite yet as the news is just that CNN can research drones. “What the partnership actually allows is for CNN to conduct authorized trials at controlled sites with an academic partner,” CJR reported.

Gizmodo noted that “experimentation with drone journalism is almost as old as the hobby itself. News agencies like the Associated Press have used drones to cover huge disaster stories.”

However, the CNN announcement is “a significant breakthrough,” Politico reported, because “previous efforts to use drones for newsgathering were severely limited by the FAA.”

iMediaEthics has written to CNN for more information concerning its program.

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CNN’s announcement isn’t the only bit of drone journalism news this month.  “A coalition of 10 media organizations — including the New York Times and NBC Universal — announced a research partnership with Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech), an F.A.A.-approved facility,” Capital New York reported.

In a Jan. 15 New York Times press release, the newspaper announced its partnership “for the testing of small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) to gather news.”

“The partnership between the news media coalition and Virginia Tech is designed to conduct controlled safety testing of a series of real-life scenarios where the news media could use small UAS technology to gather the news,” the press release states.

The ten media companies are: Advance Publications, Inc.; A.H. Belo Corp.; The Associated Press; Gannett Co., Inc.; Getty Images (US), Inc.; NBCUniversal; The New York Times Company; The E.W. Scripps Company; Sinclair Broadcast Group, Inc.; and The Washington Post.

“Unmanned aircraft systems can provide this industry a safe, efficient, timely and affordable way to gather and disseminate information and keep journalists out of harm’s way,” Rose Mooney, executive director of the Virginia Tech Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership, is quoted by USA Today as saying.

iMediaEthics previously covered concerns about ethical issues in using drones for journalism such as potential invasion of privacy. The website DroneJournalism.org proposed a journalism ethics code for drones. In 2012, the Knight Foundation gave a $50,000 grant to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln to review drones in journalism, as iMediaEthics wrote a the time.

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CNN Scores FAA Permit to Fly Drones for Future Newsgathering

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