I contend that just about every news story, from live breaking news to routine news packages, can benefit from the perspective that drones can provide. But having the ability, the timing, the training and the equipment to include drone footage into daily news coverage is not easy. “I have a drone that is basically in a little briefcase and it is in the back of my car so it is on scene just as quick as I am,” says Fred Matthis, WTIC Hartford, Conn., drone operator.
Can the use of drone photography elevate your TV station’s news coverage above the others?
Liz Grey Godbout, news director at WTIC, Tribune’s Fox affiliate in Hartford, Conn., thinks so.
“We use our Sky61 drone in our daily coverage. We use it for everything. We use it for breaking news, we use it for weather features, we use it on anything and everything,” she says.
WTIC even has a category on its website called The Drone Zone.
“It is not a novelty. It is a necessary news gathering tool. The drones have elevated news gathering to new heights,” says Grey Godbout.
“I can get a view that you can’t get on the ground,” said Fred Matthis, WTIC photographer and drone pilot. “Tight shots and close-ups tell a story more than anything else. The drone is kind of like the counterpoint to that because it gives you a broad overview.”
“It is a content differentiator for us,” adds Grey Godbout. “I am not sure if anyone embraces it authentically like we have. It is just a critical necessary news gathering tool.”
I agree with Grey Godbout and Matthis. Many stations have told me that sweeping vistas, beauty shots of their markets are popular videos on Facebook.
But getting drone shots included in daily, hard news coverage is another matter altogether.
I contend that just about every news story, from live breaking news to routine news packages, can benefit from the perspective that drones can provide.
But having the ability, the timing, the training and the equipment to include drone footage into daily news coverage is not easy.
“I have a drone that is basically in a little briefcase and it is in the back of my car so it is on scene just as quick as I am,” says Matthis.
“So if I am there, I can get it up and there has been more than a few times I have actually been at fires and I have had fire marshals come over and ask me to give shots on a fire scene because they are basically using me as a way to check for hot spots which is at the same time giving me great access to the scene.”
Grey Godbout says that with all the video the station posts to Facebook and other social media, “to provide this unique form of video, you can’t help but sit up and notice.”
“I think a lot of it is this area lends itself to it,” adds Matthis, “because we have a large area that we are allowed to fly because we don’t have like the big buildings in New York City that would hamper that.”
“You just need to make a shot that lasts ten, twenty, thirty seconds just to keep the viewers’ interest,” Matthis says. “More than a few times people have said, oh that drone shot is starting to look like the opening to a movie. That is a great compliment to me because people’s attention span is minuscule nowadays. I’ve started using them on our day to day coverage. I have done stand-ups with them. It allows you a two-camera shoot. It gives my pieces a little bit more depth. So hopefully it is kind of like laying bread crumbs to bring them back to our product.”
NOTE: Here are some other Market Share posts about the use of drones in news coverage.
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