Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are a technology now impacting on many fields, including journalism and mass communication. Also referred to as drones, these small remotely-guided aircraft have gained prominence through their increased use in the hunt for Al Qaeda leaders in Afghanistan and Pakistan. With increasingly sophisticated navigation systems and dramatically decreased costs, drones are now being purchased and put to use by commercial organizations and private citizens. Traditional journalists and citizen journalists alike are using drones to obtain aerial footage in a variety of locations around the world. The implications for the field of journalism and mass communication are numerous, with practical, theoretical and ethical dimensions. This paper explores these dimensions using an inductive, qualitative approach. This research paper offers a brief history of UAVs, the results of our canvass of cases that could be categorized as drone journalism, the themes that emerge from this case analysis, and an in-depth look at how this technology impacts on journalism and mass communication. Where this new technology fits within surveillance scholarship is also considered.
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