WFXT-TV FOX 25 in Boston has a brand new tool to use for news gathering and to enhance story telling - a drone. After more than a year of planning and safety considerations, they become the first Boston television station to receive Federal Aviation Administration approval to use drones to help tell local stories.
Drones offer several potential benefits for newsrooms. Unmanned helicopters and fixed-wing planes can be bought at hobby shops and online for less than $1,000. In comparison, owning a news helicopter can cost “hundreds of thousands” of dollars each year for pilots, fuel, maintenance and other expenses, said Matt Waite, a journalism professor at University of Nebraska at Lincoln to Bloomberg.
In news gathering, drones also offer the ability to gather footage where it might be dangerous or unwise for reporters to go. Bloomberg says that CBS’s “60 Minutes” used a drone to capture aerial footage of the villages around Chernobyl, the area in Russia that has been abandoned since a nuclear plant explosion in 1986.
The use of drones for journalism also raises potential safety and privacy issues, especially near densely packed crowds where news and sporting events often take place. In 2013, a drone crashed into a grandstand at Virginia Motorsports Park, causing minor injuries to several spectators during an event.
The inaugural flight for the station came after more than a year of planning and safety considerations, which led to the Federal Aviation Administration approving drone use for FOX 25 and all Cox Media Group stations. “Our company has been working diligently on this initiative, so our stations can give viewers a new, unique perspective in our news coverage,” said WFXT Vice President and General Manager Tom Raponi. “We are looking forward to using this valuable storytelling resource while following all federal rules and regulations.” The flights will happen far from airports and crowds, and there will be a trained pilot at the controls.
Drones show different vantage points that would be impossible to see from the ground or even from the SkyFOX helicopter. FOX 25 and its owners, Cox Media Group, wanted to use drones as a news gathering tool. All of FOX 25's drone flights will comply with state and federal laws and operate at a safe altitude. The flights will happen far from airports and crowds, and there will be a trained pilot at the controls. FOX 25 and Cox Media Group stations will continue working with the FAA to help establish permanent rules and regulations for drones by demonstrating their safe and effective use.
FOX 25 News is looking forward to bringing informative and amazing images to the viewers from a unique perspective. The station launched it over a New England orchard today, showing the incredible fall foliage with pilot Roland Boucher at the controls. You can take a look at that report below.