Missed ASNE live chat on drones? Replay available!

On Wednesday, ASNE hosted its first live video event, dubbed "ASNE Expert Series: Droning on," with Matt Waitejournalism professor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and Wendy EriksonFAA-certified remote pilot and drone journalist.
The discussion covered best practices, rules and tips to get started with drone journalism, ranging from understanding licensing issues to talking through ethical and policy questions to purchasing the right drones for your newsroom's money to creating your newsroom's policy for the safe use of drones. 

Those who weren't able to join the discussion can replay the video by clicking on the play button below.


Three things you need to be a professional drone journalist by Matt Waite:

  1. A drone license — need a Remote Pilot certificate with a small unmanned system rating — from the FAA. To get one, you'll have to pass the FAA's knowledge test. It's a 60-question multiple choice test. You need a 70 percent to pass it. It's not hard if you study — most students I've coached through the test report needing between 20 and 40 hours of study to nail it. The test will cost you $150, and you can take it as many times as you need to pass it, but it will cost you $150 each time. You'll take it at a certified flight school in your area. If you want some help with the materials on the test, then Poynter, Google News Lab, NPPA and myself have teamed up for a series of drone schools. As of this writing, there's two left. You can get more information here: you take the test seriously and really learn the materials, then you'll pass. The added benefit of really learning the materials is it will make you a much better and safer pilot. Which brings me to …
  2. Insurance. Not having insurance, generally speaking, is insanity. You're gambling your financial solvency that nothing is going to go wrong. A professional has insurance, period. Now, one note: Your company's general liability policy does not cover aircraft. You will need either specific insurance for your drone, or you'll need to get a rider for your existing policy. How much it costs depends on how many aircraft you have, but prices range from the hundreds to the thousands of dollars per year. There are also companies like Verifly that do on demand insurance. It's a smartphone app where you pull it up, tell Verifly where you are flying and for how long and they'll quote you a price (usually in the $10-20 range from what I have seen). But don't underplay the insurance part of this. It can be a hassle — it can take more time than you think because it will involve other parts of your company — but the peace of mind that comes with coverage in the case of something going wrong is worth it.
  3. Written policies. FAA regulations are one thing, but what you will and won't do in your own newsroom is another thing entirely. Any professionalized operation needs clearly defined roles, decision-making processes, ethical and legal guidance, and, perhaps most important, checklists for safe operations. You need to create a culture where smart decisions are made, and proper use is done every time. Combining those things into a document that everyone uses is a must. Good news: The Drone Journalism Lab that I started at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 2011 has a manual that you can have for free. It's a gift from Knight Foundation to you. It's an open source, Creative Commons-licensed document that you can have, use, copy, plagiarize and do whatever you want with. We want you to have policies, so we've given you a solid foundation to work from. You can get it here:

The event was organized by the ASNE Communications Committee, headed by Co-Chairs Paul Cheung of NBC News Digital and Karen Peterson. They work with the committee members to host a monthly online hangout for editors on a pressing news leadership topic of the day. Send topics of your interest to