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Matthew Schroyer

| Drone Journalism

Matthew Schroyer is a drone and data journalist based in Urbana, Illinois. He is developing drone technology and small Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (sUAV) for use in journalistic enterprises. To this end, he has founded the Professional Society of Drone Journalists (PSDJ), located at He's written for newspapers, alternative newsweeklies and news websites about presidential campaigns, energy, pollution, local politics, public housing, poverty, musicians, school board meetings and assorted slices of life. He holds a master's in journalism University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, where he was a contributor to, a community news website funded by the Knight Foundation. While a graduate student, he taught journalism and helped produce, an interactive web site using data journalism practices to report on crime at UIUC, which won an Mark of Excellence award from the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ). Full-time, he now works on a National Science Foundation grant at the University of Illinois called EnLiST, which offers leadership training and professional development for K-12 science teachers. There, he performs a variety of duties as a communications specialist and social network analyst. He also heads “Drones for Schools” program, a project-based learning initiative where high school students learn STEM concepts and practice engineering design as they build and operate their own unmanned aerial vehicles for photomapping missions. He is available as a consultant to teach news organizations how to adopt data journalism strategies and utilize drones for low-cost, high-impact investigative reporting. He blogs at and occasionally contributes to the small unmanned systems news website

In a place where news crews had been risking equipment and lives attempting to cover floods, Olewe’s African skyCAM deployed drones to reduce the risk to reporters. Despite progress in the field, on January 15, the Kenyan government instituted a general ban on private drone use.

Source: The Telegraph
Source: The Telegraph

Just as drones are finding applications within journalism, so too are they finding more uses among the international development and human rights communities. And in many cases, drone deployment for a humanitarian initiative can go hand-in-hand with tremendously important reporting.

Members of the House of Lords visit Cranfield University's RPAS program during a fact-finding mission.
Members of the House of Lords visit Cranfield University’s RPAS program during a fact-finding mission.

While acknowledging the drone is an important tool for journalism, members of Parliament in the United Kingdom stress the need for an open dialogue with the public on the pros and cons of media drones.

Relatively low-cost technology exists today that enables drones to fly miles from their operators, but proposed rules in the United States would outlaw this kind of operation for everyone, including journalists. PSDJ urges rulemaking committee to reccommend sensible regulations.

photo: abc NEWS
photo: abc NEWS

No private pilot license, no aircraft certification, no medical exam. That’s the bottom line from the proposed rules for small unmanned aircraft systems, recently released by the Federal Aviation Administration.

A group of civilians called АРМІЯ SOS, or Army SOS, released aerial video last Friday of the war-ravaged Donetsk Airport, which they obtained using a small, fixed-wing drone. It was possible to extract and process frames from the video in order to generate more information about damage to the Donetsk Airport.


In February 2014, a freelance videographer reporting on a fatal car accident in Hartford, Conn., was was told by police to land his small drone and leave the scene of the crash. The station he was working for, WFSB, then fired the reporter after being contacted several times by Hartford police.

Unmanned aircraft systems, more commonly known as drones, show great promise in improving the quality of news coverage by offering unique perspectives and uncovering hidden data. It also has the potential to make aerial filming much safer than is possible with manned helicopters.

by   -   December 5, 2014
RPAS training session in progress. Source: Resource Group.
Small RPAS training session in progress. Source: Resource Group.

No two countries see eye-to-eye when it comes to regulating drones; and every country seems to have different guidelines for determining who can deploy drones.

by   -   November 6, 2014
Australia-based aerial filming company SWARM UAV works on a multirotor. Companies that use RPAS in Australia are looking at developing and using smaller and lighter aircraft, which would allow more regulatory freedom to operate. Photo courtesy of Ryan Hamlet, PSDJ board member and RPAS operator for SWARM UAV.

As Australia’s air authority considers relaxing regulations for small drones, experts there are optimistic about the future for drone journalism.

Photo from Aerial Mob, one of the six companies granted permission to conduct drone flights for commercial film use in the United States.

With a number of strict requirements, for the first time in the United States, film companies will be authorized to fly unmanned aircraft systems for commercial purposes.

Not only would a hi-vis vest show ownership and responsibility for drone operations, it would also promote a professional image, and make the public more aware of when a drone operation is in progress.

Philip Grossman is perhaps the only person to ever fly a drone of any kind inside one of the most radioactively contaminated sites in the world.

It was only last month that Kickstarter officially announced it would add journalism as a formal crowdfunding category, but an enterprising journalist last week decided to combine crowdfunding with another cutting-edge journalism tool: drones.