"Drone journalism" – the idea that small, unmanned aircraft can be used to gather photos, video, and data for use by journalists – is hot.
So hot that journalism professor Matt Waite has been interviewed by news outlets around the world, including Japan, Australia, Hungary, German, and France, since launching a "drone journalism lab" at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln late last year.
And hot enough that the Knight Foundation announced today that it has awarded a $50,000 Knight Prototype grant that Waite says will fund the "lab" for several years, paying for equipment, maintenance, training and travel.
But at the same time, "drone journalism" is also essentially nonexistent. It's illegal, at least in the United States, and at least until September 2015, when the Federal Aviation Administration is set to issue new regulations allowing some commercial use of drones.
"Things have been very, very positive, and it's a provocative idea," Waite said in a March interview. "An idea on the cusp of being something great, but it's on the wrong side of the cusp."
"If they're doing this in Belgium, we're going to be able to do this here soon," he said. "If the technology is there, holy crap."
Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. We believe that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more, visit www.knightfoundation.org.