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.

Mark Armstrong   Time to pay up

Mario García   Virtual reality on mobile leaps forward

Matt Waite   The people running the media are the problem

Libby Bawcombe   Kids board the podcast train

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

Moreno Cruz Osório   The year of transparency in Brazilian journalism

Rebekah Monson   Journalism is community-as-a-service

Emily Goligoski   Incorporating audience feedback at scale

Helen Havlak   Chasing mobile search results

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

Eric Nuzum   Podcasting stratifies into hard layers

Cory Haik   Navigating power in Trump’s America

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

Errin Haines   Chaos or community?

P. Kim Bui   The year journalism teaches again

Mike Ragsdale   A smarter information diet

Guy Raz   Inspiration and hope will matter more than ever

Ashley C. Woods   Local journalism will fight a new fight

Carla Zanoni   Prioritizing emotional health

Taylor Lorenz   “Selfie journalism” becomes a thing

Michael Kuntz   Trust is the new click

Dan Colarusso   Let’s make live video we can love

Mira Lowe   News literacy, bias, and “Hamilton”

Amy O'Leary   Not just covering communities, reaching them

Sarah Marshall   Focusing on the why of the click

Liz Danzico   The triumph of the small

Jon Slade   Trusted news, at a premium

Sara M. Watson   There is no neutral interface

Sue Schardt   Objectivity, fairness, balance, and love

Carrie Brown-Smith   We won’t do enough

Kawandeep Virdee   Moving deeper than the machine of clicks

Sam Ford   The year we talk about our awful metrics

Mandy Velez   The audience is the source and the story

Kathleen Kingsbury   Print as a premium offering

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

Erin Pettigrew   A year of reflection in tech

Rachel Schallom   Stop flying over the flyover states

David Chavern   Fake news gets solved

Tim Griggs   The year we stop taking sides

Swati Sharma   Failing diversity is failing journalism

Ray Soto   VR moves from experiments to immersion

Olivia Ma   The year collaboration beats competition

Amy Webb   Journalism as a service

Lee Glendinning   A call for great editing

Tanya Cordrey   The resurgence of reach

Alice Antheaume   A new test for French media

M. Scott Havens   Quality advertising to pair with quality content

Burt Herman   Local news gets interesting

Joanne Lipman   The year of the drone, really

Dannagal G. Young   The return of the gatekeepers

Alexis Lloyd   Public trust for private realities

Bill Adair   The year of the fact-checking bot

Trushar Barot   API or die

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

Emi Kolawole   From empathy to community

Jonathan Hunt   Measurement companies get with the times

Caitlin Thompson   High touch, high value

Megan H. Chan   Cultural reporting goes mainstream

Matt Karolian   AI improves publishing

Elizabeth Jensen   Trust depends on the details

Umbreen Bhatti   A sense of journalists’ humanity

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

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

Millie Tran   International expansion without colonial overtones

Sarah Wolozin   Virtual reality on the open web

Margarita Noriega   From pinning tweets to tweeting pins

Pablo Boczkowski   Fake news and the future of journalism

David Skok   What lies beyond paywalls

An Xiao Mina   2017 is for the attention innovators

Mary Meehan   Feeling blue in a red state

Almar Latour   Thanks, #fakenews

Andy Rossback   The year of the user

Dhiya Kuriakose   The year of digital detoxing

Francesco Marconi   The year of augmented writing

Sydette Harry   Facing journalism’s history

Steve Henn   The next revolution is voice

Laura Walker   Authentic voices, not fake news

Ståle Grut   The battle for high-quality VR

Andrew Losowsky   Building our own communities

Samantha Barry   Messaging apps go mainstream

Aja Bogdanoff   Comments start pulling their weight

Nathalie Malinarich   Making it easy

Hillary Frey   Forests need to burn to regrow

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

Laura E. Davis   Show your work

Tracie Powell   Building reader relationships

Andrew Ramsammy   Rise of the rebel journalist

Nicholas Quah   Podcasting’s coming class war

Juan Luis Sánchez   Your predictions are our present

Felix Salmon   Headlines matter

Priya Ganapati   Mobile websites are ready for reinvention

Alberto Cairo   Communicating uncertainty to our readers

Mathew Ingram   The Faustian Facebook dance continues

Molly de Aguiar   Philanthropists galvanize around news

Katie Zhu   The year of minority media

Coleen O'Lear   Back to basics

Gabriel Snyder   The aberration of 20th-century journalism

Rachel Sklar   Women are going to get loud

Claire Wardle   Verification takes center stage

Ariane Bernard   Better data about your users

Ryan McCarthy   Platforms grow up or grow more toxic

Zizi Papacharissi   Distracted journalism looks in the mirror

Mary Walter-Brown   Getting comfortable asking for money

Cindy Royal   Preparing the digital educator-scholar hybrid

Asma Khalid   The year of the newsy podcast

Erin Millar   The bottom falls out of Canadian media

Melody Kramer   Radically rethinking design

Andrea Silenzi   Podcasts dive into breaking news analysis

Corey Ford   The year of the rebelpreneur

Annemarie Dooling   UGC as a path out of the bubble

Javaun Moradi   What can we own?

Michael Oreskes   Reversing the erosion of democracy

Jim Friedlich   A banner year for venture philanthropy

Tim Herrera   The safe space of service journalism

Valérie Bélair-Gagnon   Truthiness in private spaces

Juliette De Maeyer and Dominique Trudel   A rebirth of populist journalism

Ken Schwencke   Disaggregation and collection

Keren Goldshlager   Defining a focus, and then saying no

Bill Keller   A healthy skepticism about data

Scott Dodd   Nonprofits team up for impact

Geetika Rudra   Journalism is community

Peter Sterne   A dangerous anti-press mix

Doris Truong   Connecting with diverse perspectives

Dan Gillmor   Fix the demand side of news too

Rubina Madan Fillion   Snapchat grows up

S.P. Sullivan   Baking transparency into our routines

Ole Reißmann   Un-faking the news

Robert Hernandez   History will exclude you, again

Jeremy Barr   A terrible year for Tiers B through D

Andrew Haeg   The year of listening

Jonathan Stray   A boom in responsible conservative media

Amie Ferris-Rotman   Вслед за Россией

Adam Thomas   The coming collaboration across Europe

Renée Kaplan   Pure reach has reached its limit

Vivian Schiller   Tested like never before

David Weigel   A test for online speech

Julia Beizer   Building a coherent core identity

Reyhan Harmanci   Bear witness — but then what?

Christopher Meighan   Unlocking a deeper mobile experience

Liz McMillen   The year of deep insights