By Michael Calhoun

COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMOX) —There’s been a flurry of talk about the U.S. government’s potential use of drones, and now journalism students at the University of Missouri School of Journalism are learning how to fly the controversial unmanned aircraft.

Assistant Professor Bill Allen, who’s teaching the course this semester, told KMOX talk show host Mark Reardon (listen here) that there are several legitimate, practical uses for drones in journalism.

“There’s a lot of stories you’ll need to just get up about a hundred or two hundred feet to get a different angle on things,” said Allen. Those stories could be floods, forest fires, or car crashes.

Allen said drones would act much like TV choppers and our KMOX airplanes do now. He recalls covering the Flood of 1993 and said reporters then had to hitch a helicopter ride, look from a long way away or not see it at all.

He stressed the students also consider privacy concerns as part of their coursework and have to adhere to journalism codes of ethics.

“We are trying to do this the right way. We do not intend to graduate students who are going to go use these as paparazzi,” Allen said.

“We want them to use it responsibly as we prepare students for the future of ethical, responsible public service journalism.”


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