CNN Uses UAV for Newsgathering; ‘So What?’ Says TV Host

CNN recently used an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) to capture footage of the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala., as part of the network's coverage of the 50th anniversary of the civil-rights walk that took place there.

To get the shots – its first time deploying the technology for U.S. newsgathering – CNN partnered with HeliVideo Productions LLC to fly a DJI Spreading Wings S1000 with a Panasonic GH4 camera, according to a report from the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI).

CNN’s video, which can be found here, offers what it calls a “new angle of Selma,” featuring an aerial view of the bridge and surrounding area.

However, not everyone is impressed with CNN’s use of a UAV. Jon Stewart, host of The Daily Show, shared his thoughts during a recent episode of the show:

“Stop acting like you launched a space station or made an Apple watch. You got drone footage – which we can now add to the 495,000 other drone footage videos on YouTube or, say, every dad who found the Best Buy insert in the newspaper,” he said.

He claimed that CNN’s coverage of the 50th anniversary of the march focused too much on the network’s use of a drone and not enough on the news itself.

“Can we get back to the historical commemoration of the march?” he asked.

The Daily Show team once used a drone during a segment, he said, noting that they are “idiots” and that, therefore, the feat is not as noteworthy or difficult to accomplish as CNN is making it to be.

CNN has UAS research partnerships with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and Georgia Tech Research Institute. Under these agreements, the entities are collecting UAV data to formulate a framework for various types of UAVs to be safely integrated into newsgathering operations.

HeliVideo was one of the first U.S. entities to receive a commercial UAV exemption from the FAA. Through the exemption, HeliVideo can operate its UAV for closed-set filming in the motion picture industry.


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