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Drone Journalism & Marketing: the Possibilities are Endless

The Meek School of Journalism and New Media received a donation from HottyToddy.com that offers endless possibilities to the fields of journalism and integrated marketing communications: a drone that could potentially turn out to be a portal for newsgathering that could surpass many of the tools used for that purpose in the fields today.

R.J. and the Meek School Drone
R.J. Morgan and the Meek School’s new drone, Farley.

Deb Wenger is associate professor of journalism at the University of Mississippi. Wenger said the journalism experimentation into drone technology could be a real boon for the field and for IMC.

“This was a donation to the school by HottyToddy.com,” Wenger said. “Essentially, it gives our journalism program the opportunity to test out the drone and its applications in newsgathering and talk about the ethical implications as well as any limitations on the technology and/or the advantages that flying a drone can bring to newsgathering.”

Wenger said the FAA is trying to figure out how to regulate drones as newsgathering tools.

“What we’ve been told is that for educational purposes, we’re OK in flying the drone,” she said. “The UPD is fine with the drone being used to fly over the Grove or to simply practice flying it. The issues arise if it’s used for any commercial purposes, for example, flying it over a football game for advertisement. That’s where it gets a bit murky as far as the rules are concerned. There are also some questions about educational use and when that’s allowed and when it isn’t, so we’re going to be testing and exploring the use of drones and trying to understand all the legal issues surrounding it.”

Wenger said the average person could buy a drone and fly it for fun, no problem, so the world of academia is making the argument that it should be allowed also for educational purposes and for demonstrations.

R.J. Morgan is an instructor at the Meek School of Journalism and New Media and also the “Drone Commander.” Morgan demonstrated the drone, which he nicknamed “Farley,” after Farley Hall, recently at the Ole Miss New Media Conference Innovate 2015. Morgan believes drones are a part of the future of journalism as well.

“”Drones are another storytelling tool for us in the media to use moving forward,” Morgan said. “This is where we’re headed, so it’s important to find ways to bring this into our curriculum. The experience is a lot like playing a real-life video game.”

Wenger said that she feels certain the FAA will have some definitive guidelines by the end of this year for drones and if not by year’s end, then hopefully by the mid-point of next year.

“It’s too valuable of a technology for me to believe that we’ll still be sitting here five years from now wondering what’s going on,” she said.

Wenger said the field of IMC will benefit from drone use too, because the applications for drone use in integrated marketing communications are endless as well. In fact, she said drones were already in the works for testing by Amazon; the company just received approval to test out drone use for delivery of packages. Wenger wasn’t fully aware of all the details, but did know the FAA had granted them an opportunity to study the potentiality of that process.

“Drones are another example of how technology is changing the jobs of journalists and marketers and it’s really exciting that the Meek School of Journalism and New Media is able to be out there on the cutting edge, trying to figure out what the future of drones in our profession happens to be.”

Angela Rogalski is a HottyToddy.com staff reporter and can be reached at angela.rogalski@hottytoddy.com.

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