Drone Journalism Holds Great Potential To Improve Safety Of Journalists In Africa’s Volatile Situations (www.africa.com)

Drone Journalism Holds Great Potential To Improve Safety Of Journalists In Africa’s Volatile Situations


Drone journalism or the use of unmanned aerial vehicles holds great potential for news gathering purposes during a volatile environment such as political protests, violent conflict and natural disaster without placing the lives and health of our journalists at risk, Thuo expounds.

She says that drones, which are small unmanned aircrafts operated remotely by a person on the ground, can facilitate journalists to remain true to their calling by providing the public with accurate and timely information without becoming collateral damage or even losing expensive equipment.

Footage of volcanic eruptions, wartorn villages, and nuclear disasters have all been made possible by drone technology, and experts such as Thuo are stressing that the time has come for journalists in Africa, particularly those covering active armed conflict, to turn to drone technology.

There are at least 15 armed conflicts in Africa today in countries such as Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Cameroon and Ethiopia, where at great risk to their lives, journalists continue to expose ongoing atrocious crimes against humanity.

As such, drone photos, videos and live streaming capacities can enable journalists to make, their news reports more insightful and innovative, especially in the coverage of fastmoving and in areas that are too dangerous for journalists.

Thuo speaks of companies, NGOs and universities that are testing drones in this context, including the Drone Journalism Lab at NebraskaLincoln College of Journalism and Mass Communication.


ByJoyce Chimbi

In a departure from the past, where journalists in Kenya have freely covered antigovernment protests unharmed, a series of events that unfolded in March 2023 have heightened fears of the reemergence of brutal physical attacks on journalists.

According to the Media Council of Kenya, in a span of two weeks, more than 25 journalists were harassed, arrested and held in police cells, physically attacked, expensive equipment destroyed and footage deleted during the oppositionled demonstrations.

Calvin Tyrus Omondi, who participated in the recent March protests and many others before, tells IPS that journalists usually cover demonstrations while standing on the side of the police officers because they are safe there.

Closer home, the africanDRONE, a panAfrican community of drone operators and journalists, is committed to using drones.

A picture may well be worth a thousand words, but as camerapersons and photographers find themselves on the receiving end and at risk of serious and lifethreatening bodily harm, Thuo says media stakeholders must, as a matter of urgency, begin to explore legislation to facilitate drone journalism in times of crisis.

We have to factor in the issues of protecting peoples privacy, public safety and journalism ethics.


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