The year of the drone, really

“Now comes the fun part: for journalists to let their imaginations roam free, to invent new ways to bring stories to life.”

In 2017, drone reporting will come into its own. The challenge for news organizations will be to make it a useful reporting tool, not just another gimmick.

joanne-lipmanYou’d think drone reporting would have been a reality already. When every 10-year-old on your block is playing with the drone he or she got for Christmas, it’s ironic that journalists haven’t gotten in on the action. But most news organizations have proceeded slowly so far, hamstrung by regulatory, privacy, and ethical issues. Safety is a concern too, considering those unnerving reports of drones falling out of the sky. A year ago, some journalistic prognosticators were declaring 2016 to be the year of the drone. They were wrong.

But now that the Federal Aviation Administration has issued initial rules for commercial drone operators — including requiring journalists who aren’t licensed pilots to pass a test — expect news organizations to take flight. We’ve got ambitious plans in the works at USA Today Network, which includes flagship USA Today plus 109 local properties such as the Detroit Free Press, Cincinnati Enquirer, and Arizona Republic. Other news organizations are sure to follow.

The real excitement will come when journalists let their creative juices flow. No doubt you’ll see drones deployed to bring immersive coverage of forest fires, police chases, hurricane destruction, tornado paths, and anything else human reporters can’t get to themselves. That’s a start. But true drone storytelling – like virtual reality storytelling – will develop its own idiom. The FAA regulations, along with licensing and training, are just the first step. Now comes the fun part: for journalists to let their imaginations roam free, to invent new ways to bring stories to life. That’s when we’ll truly get liftoff.

Joanne Lipman is chief content officer of Gannett.

Helen Havlak   Chasing mobile search results

Andrew Losowsky   Building our own communities

Andrew Haeg   The year of listening

An Xiao Mina   2017 is for the attention innovators

Keren Goldshlager   Defining a focus, and then saying no

Tim Herrera   The safe space of service journalism

M. Scott Havens   Quality advertising to pair with quality content

Katie Zhu   The year of minority media

Coleen O'Lear   Back to basics

Alice Antheaume   A new test for French media

Rebekah Monson   Journalism is community-as-a-service

Steve Henn   The next revolution is voice

Nicholas Quah   Podcasting’s coming class war

Mario García   Virtual reality on mobile leaps forward

Geetika Rudra   Journalism is community

Tracie Powell   Building reader relationships

Amy Webb   Journalism as a service

Dan Colarusso   Let’s make live video we can love

Scott Dodd   Nonprofits team up for impact

Mike Ragsdale   A smarter information diet

Trushar Barot   API or die

Burt Herman   Local news gets interesting

Molly de Aguiar   Philanthropists galvanize around news

Matt Karolian   AI improves publishing

Dannagal G. Young   The return of the gatekeepers

Taylor Lorenz   “Selfie journalism” becomes a thing

David Weigel   A test for online speech

Jonathan Hunt   Measurement companies get with the times

P. Kim Bui   The year journalism teaches again

Erin Pettigrew   A year of reflection in tech

Rachel Schallom   Stop flying over the flyover states

Reyhan Harmanci   Bear witness — but then what?

Christopher Meighan   Unlocking a deeper mobile experience

Javaun Moradi   What can we own?

Eric Nuzum   Podcasting stratifies into hard layers

Ryan McCarthy   Platforms grow up or grow more toxic

Rubina Madan Fillion   Snapchat grows up

Joanne Lipman   The year of the drone, really

Melody Kramer   Radically rethinking design

Ray Soto   VR moves from experiments to immersion

Pablo Boczkowski   Fake news and the future of journalism

Richard J. Tofel   The country doesn’t trust us — but they do believe us

Erin Millar   The bottom falls out of Canadian media

Millie Tran   International expansion without colonial overtones

Emily Goligoski   Incorporating audience feedback at scale

Alexis Lloyd   Public trust for private realities

Lee Glendinning   A call for great editing

Alberto Cairo   Communicating uncertainty to our readers

Dhiya Kuriakose   The year of digital detoxing

Tanya Cordrey   The resurgence of reach

Liz Danzico   The triumph of the small

Sue Schardt   Objectivity, fairness, balance, and love

Jonathan Stray   A boom in responsible conservative media

Laura E. Davis   Show your work

Valérie Bélair-Gagnon   Truthiness in private spaces

Almar Latour   Thanks, #fakenews

Adam Thomas   The coming collaboration across Europe

Ashley C. Woods   Local journalism will fight a new fight

S.P. Sullivan   Baking transparency into our routines

Renée Kaplan   Pure reach has reached its limit

Peter Sterne   A dangerous anti-press mix

Lam Thuy Vo   The primary source in the age of mechanical multiplication

Carla Zanoni   Prioritizing emotional health

Priya Ganapati   Mobile websites are ready for reinvention

Zizi Papacharissi   Distracted journalism looks in the mirror

Cindy Royal   Preparing the digital educator-scholar hybrid

Mathew Ingram   The Faustian Facebook dance continues

Umbreen Bhatti   A sense of journalists’ humanity

Felix Salmon   Headlines matter

Liz McMillen   The year of deep insights

Mira Lowe   News literacy, bias, and “Hamilton”

Nushin Rashidian   A rise in high-price, high-value subscriptions

Jeremy Barr   A terrible year for Tiers B through D

Jim Friedlich   A banner year for venture philanthropy

Aja Bogdanoff   Comments start pulling their weight

Tressie McMillan Cottom   A path through the media’s coming legitimacy crisis

Ernst-Jan Pfauth   Earn trust by working for (and with) readers

Nathalie Malinarich   Making it easy

Rachel Sklar   Women are going to get loud

Sarah Wolozin   Virtual reality on the open web

Amy O'Leary   Not just covering communities, reaching them

Samantha Barry   Messaging apps go mainstream

Guy Raz   Inspiration and hope will matter more than ever

Laura Walker   Authentic voices, not fake news

Mandy Velez   The audience is the source and the story

Moreno Cruz Osório   The year of transparency in Brazilian journalism

Sam Ford   The year we talk about our awful metrics

Ariane Bernard   Better data about your users

Anita Zielina   The sales funnel reaches (and changes) the newsroom

Sara M. Watson   There is no neutral interface

Doris Truong   Connecting with diverse perspectives

Julia Beizer   Building a coherent core identity

Olivia Ma   The year collaboration beats competition

Annemarie Dooling   UGC as a path out of the bubble

Andrea Silenzi   Podcasts dive into breaking news analysis

Carrie Brown-Smith   We won’t do enough

Errin Haines Whack   Chaos or community?

Andy Rossback   The year of the user

David Skok   What lies beyond paywalls

Claire Wardle   Verification takes center stage

Kathleen Kingsbury   Print as a premium offering

Bill Adair   The year of the fact-checking bot

Sydette Harry   Facing journalism’s history

Tim Griggs   The year we stop taking sides

Juan Luis Sánchez   Your predictions are our present

Megan H. Chan   Cultural reporting goes mainstream

Gabriel Snyder   The aberration of 20th-century journalism

Michael Oreskes   Reversing the erosion of democracy

Ole Reißmann   Un-faking the news

Swati Sharma   Failing diversity is failing journalism

Robert Hernandez   History will exclude you, again

Asma Khalid   The year of the newsy podcast

Sarah Marshall   Focusing on the why of the click

Mary Meehan   Feeling blue in a red state

Kawandeep Virdee   Moving deeper than the machine of clicks

Andrew Ramsammy   Rise of the rebel journalist

Mark Armstrong   Time to pay up

Cory Haik   Navigating power in Trump’s America

Caitlin Thompson   High touch, high value

Ken Schwencke   Disaggregation and collection

Vivian Schiller   Tested like never before

Michael Kuntz   Trust is the new click

Maria Bustillos   “It’s true — I saw it on Facebook”

Dan Gillmor   Fix the demand side of news too

Rasmus Kleis Nielsen   News after advertising may look like news before advertising

Amie Ferris-Rotman   Вслед за Россией

Emi Kolawole   From empathy to community

Bill Keller   A healthy skepticism about data

Mary Walter-Brown   Getting comfortable asking for money

Juliette De Maeyer and Dominique Trudel   A rebirth of populist journalism

David Chavern   Fake news gets solved

Francesco Marconi   The year of augmented writing

Matt Waite   The people running the media are the problem

Margarita Noriega   From pinning tweets to tweeting pins

Corey Ford   The year of the rebelpreneur

Libby Bawcombe   Kids board the podcast train

Ståle Grut   The battle for high-quality VR

Hillary Frey   Forests need to burn to regrow

Elizabeth Jensen   Trust depends on the details

Jon Slade   Trusted news, at a premium