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Professional Society of Drone Journalists membership soars past 150, includes journalists, developers, and operators from 26 countries

February 25, 2014

PSDJ countries 2-15-2014.jpg

Every month, I have the pleasure of looking through the bios of the latest members joining the Professional Society of Drone Journalists and learning more about the great journalists, educators, engineers, developers and operators looking to deploy small unmanned systems to increase public knowledge and understanding.

I am humbled by the latest crop of Professional Society of Drone Journalists members. We are fortunate to have all of them join us, but I wanted to pull out four illustrative examples to show the diversity and strength of our membership.

One is Pedro Rivera, a photographer from Connecticut who you might know as the individual who is suing Hartford police for infringing on his First Amendment rights. Mr. Rivera is a young drone journalist, and yet is a trailblazer in terms of covering police activities with small unmanned aircraft. We offer our support Mr. Rivera in his pursuit of justice.

Another is Mickey H. Osterreicher, general counsel for the National Press Photographer’s Association (NPPA). He is among the best, most experienced, most knowledgeable attorneys in the country when it comes to supporting press freedom and photojournalism.

Yet another is Brendan Keefe, the chief investigative reporter for WCPO 9 On Your Side, the ABC affiliate and E.W. Scripps flagship station in Cincinnati. Mr. Keefe was a helicopter reporter for five years in Houston, and is the first helicopter reporter and FLIR cam operator in Cincinnati. Keefe is branching out his skill-set into drone journalism with a highly-customized DJI Phantom. He’s won 38 regional Emmy’s so far in his career.

And finally I would like to call attention to Stuart Marlantes, a reporter for The Daily, the student newspaper for the University of Washington. Mr. Marlantes was on track to finish a degree in Computer Science, when the journalism bug bit him. He looked for a way to combine his computer skills with his hunger for informing the public, and came upon drones.

Mr. Marlantes saved up what little money he could to purchase his first drone, a quadcopter. Now he flies almost daily.

The last story in particular closely resembles my own history, so I’ll admit I teared up a bit upon reading his submission.

Without further ado, I present to you the latest members of the Professional Society of Drone Journalists.

•    Peter Sachs attorney, private detective, FAA-licensed commercial helicopter pilot and advanced ground instructor, a remote-controlled model aircraft (“drone”) pilot, a photographer, a volunteer fire dept. member, an EMT, a geek, a blogger, a muckraker and a polymath. He owns and publishes, the purpose of which is to observe and report on how the area of drone law develops. (United States)

•    Michael Packer is media director for several social campaigns such as Priority One – Getting young people involved with older people, Australia National Drug Offensive, and Office Apprenticeships. (New Zealand)

•    Steve Mitchell is a director and cameraman for TV and Independent films.  He produces the travel show Great GetAways, which airs on NBC. Mitchell often travels with a quad copter, and uses it for aerial video coverage. His most recent project was in Thailand. (United States)

•    Michael Duncan is an FAA certified commercial airline transport pilot, with over 25 years of professional airline experience, and holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Aviation management. He is a member of the Unmanned Aircraft Professional Association (UAPA). His interest in this area of aviation includes, building, programming flight control systems, test flying sUAS. In addition to other interests in this new field includes training other potential UAS pilots to fly unmanned aircraft in the area of aerial mapping, aerial photography, and utilizing the aircraft in journalism. He’s recently built an Aphid Reptile X450 quad copter, and a Tarot FY680 hexacopter for FPV, aerial photography, and aerial mapping. (United States)

•    William Mael is a forensic engineer who studies systems failures and auto/motorcycle crash events. He is in the process of integrating UAS’s and drone applications into field surveying and topographical missions to obtain more reliable and better quality data.  As a former private pilot who comes from a family of pilots, he has a great deal of interest in the use of airspace for personal and commercial applications and support PSJD’s goals towards realistic regulations from the FAA by their 2015 deadline. (United States)

•    Randy Abramsom is a digital media professional with more than 18 years’ experience, running products and strategy for Discovery Communications, Newsweek, the Star Ledger Newspaper and now the Office of Digital and Design Innovation. He is interested in having BBG journalists use drones in their reporting. Note that the BBG reaches 200,000,000 people per week. (United States)

•    Rick Wilking is a Reuters photographer based in Denver. (United States)

•    Alison Gow is editor, Digital Innovations with Trinity Mirror. She is keen to investigate opportunities for journalism using drones, and introduce drone-linked projects in TM titles. (United Kingdom)

•    Vicci Fatralaya is a TV journalist in Indonesia who uses DJI equipment. (Indonesia)

•    Farid Gaban, of The Jakarta Times Magazine, has 15 years of experience in print journalism, having previously worked at TEMPO news weekly magazine and REPUBLIKA daily. Gaban covered The Bosnian War in 1992 and the US Presidential Elections in 1988. Gaban travelled around the Indonesian archipelago (a country with 13.000 island) in motorbike, prahus (traditional boat) and ferries, in 10 months of 2009-2010. Gaban is interested in documenting wild life of Indonesian forest and sea scape, and considers the unmanned system is very helpful for that purpose. (Indonesia)

•    Nicholle Lalonde is a post-graduate Journalism student at the College of the North Atlantic in Stephenville, NL.  I am extremely interested in this technology for tourism, community and economic development and storytelling. (Canada)

•    Martin Roldan is the CEO of CrowdMedia. Our goal is to help photographers and videographers get discovered by editorial publishers. He has a keen interest in UAV for photojournalism, how it is used, who is doing it, what they expect in return, how laws are affecting them. “I love discussing about drone photojournalism with anyone.” (Canada)

•    Frank Bi works forPBS NewsHour. Bi recently built a DJI F550, but “crashed it within 15 minutes.” He currently is looking to build Arduino sensors, but in the meantime, has a gimbal and a GoPro and is looking to shoot video. (United States)

•    Jack Freer is an avid amateur photographer who recently retired with 37 years in law enforcement, where he conducted criminal and administrative investigations. He is planning to combine his interest in photography with my investigative experience and produce photo and investigative journalism reports. He currently flies a DJI Phantom UAV with camera, ground station, FPV goggles and other parts and equipment. He’s conducted 85 flights without incident and has more than 14 hours of combined flight time. (United States)

•    Matthew Adams is a photojournalist who has been working in broadcast news since 1996.  He is the Chief Photographer and Investigative Photojournalist at KLAS-TV. (United States)

•    Nwokeocha Chibuzo Ikechukwu is a graduate of Project Management from Federal University of Technology Owerri Imo State,Nigeria. He is married with two children, and is a devout Christian from the eastern part of Nigeria. Ikechukwu had his training in photo journalism with Alive Newspapers. (Nigeria)

•    Martin    Waters    is a longtime freelance photographer growing into the area of aerial drone work following repeated requests from clients and local news organisations. He currently is honing flying skills on basic quads while hand-building a UAV to meet specific requirements (essentially to allow for separate piloting and camera operation). He has assisted with a number of UAV shoots, primarily as camera operator, now expanding into the piloting side. Currently Waters is working towards BNUC-S qualification from the UK Civil Aviation Authority aiming to begin independent aerial filming, as opposed to the support filming he’s currently used to,  with the new build multi-rotor aircraft in August, 2013. (United Kingdom)

•    Carolyn Presutti is a television correspondent for Voice of America, based in Washington, DC.  She’s interested in all kinds of new technology for use in her stories and as the subject of her stories. Presently, she’s working on a group of international drone reports and a variety of stories on Google Glass. (United States)

•    Nelson    Farr is anUnmanned Aerial Vehicle University student living in Guatemala City, Guatemala, and has been flying r/c vehicles for 12 years, and for the past 3 have been flying unmanned vehicles (multirotors).  Farr recently began using the UAV for commercial applications such as Precision Agriculture, Cell phone tower inspections, and Real Estate and Development. He is enrolled in the Unmanned Vehicle University, and is interested in using his equipment for commercial media and reporting. (Guatemala)

•    Usha Rodrigues is a Deakin University faculty member, and a passionate professional with proven ability in news reporting, writing and research based on extensive experience in journalism and tertiary education. Rodrigues has expertise in multi-platform and cross-cultural journalism. (Australia)

•    Campani Francesco has more than 30 years’ experience in journalism and photoreportage, and now is devoted to drone journalism. Francesco worked for important Italian and international photoagencies as freelance photographer. (Italy)

•    Christopher Haddad operates Jamaica UAV Limited    , and provides UAV/UAS services for Jamaica and the Caribbean. (Jamaica)

•    Philip Grossman works for The Weather Channel, and is a private pilot with an instrument rating who became involved with drones when he purchased one to take to Chernobyl as part of a personal project. Since then, he has increased the number of drones he owns and has become an advocate at my network for their safe use. (United States)

•    Pedro Rivera is a photographer, videographer, editor, and photojournalist. Rivera owns a video production business, works as a photographer/videographer/editor for his “9-to-5” job. In his spare time, he uses his UAV to go to local breaking news to gather video/photos. Rivera pilots a DJI Phantom Vision 2, and has been flying UAV’s for more than 10 years. (United States)

•    Luis Marco operates a Facebook blog which averages about 20,000 hits a month, and is interested in UAVs and drones used in journalism and emergency fire response. (Spain)

•    Terry Davis of Ghost RC, LLC, is a retired bench scientist with an interest in developing UASs for monitoring of invasive species (feral hogs) and in designing new flight platforms.  He is a member of AUVSI and the AMA, and is keenly aware of the public acceptance issues surrounding the development of the UAS industry.  Davis assembles airframes from components and sells them under his company’s name. (United States)

•    John Shepard is an associate professor in Hamline University’s School of Education and assistant director of the School’s Center for Global Environmental Education ( He works full time as a multimedia producer creating web-based educational learning programs, documentary videos, and communications resources for multiple audiences concerning water and other natural resource topics. His center has purchased and are preparing to use drones in its videography work, and he is interested in staying on top of the use of drones in journalism, education, and multimedia story telling. (United States)

•    Jon Resnick is a Planning Editor for Associated Press Television in Washington DC, who currently is studying the operational and regulatory implications of UAV use for both enterprise and breaking news coverage. (United States)

•    Ernie Ensign is the Director of News Operations for the ABC affiliate in Washington DC (WJLA). He follows the ongoing dialog about the legality and usage of drones for journalistic purposes. (United States)

•    Roger Seay is Assistant News Director for KFVS TV in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, looking to cover news in America’s Heartland using drone footage.  He is interested in using drones for environmental and agricultural stories. (United States)

•    Robert Gaspirc is an Ontario Land Information Professional experienced in remote sensing and aerial imaging. Many municipalities are  looking at UAV’s as a platform to record capital works improvements, provide intelligence related to flooded areas, examination of tree canopies and many other municipal activities. (Canada)

•    Wayne    Reimer    is an independent documentary journalist, currently specializing in the development, documentation, application and uses of UAS for both search & rescue and agricultural uses. He lives in the middle of the Canadian Prairies, an area whose economy is primarily agriculture based. As such, the implementation of UAS in a wide variety of agricultural applications is enormous. (Canada)

•    Mark LaBoyteaux is a freelance photographer/videographer who has been doing aerial photography and filming using remotely piloted aircraft for the past 8 years. He would like to participate or contribute media to local news organizations. He currently owns several “drone” aircraft and have also been sent a cease and desist letter from the FAA. (United States)

•    Richie Schut is developing a tricopter platform for video recording of news events. He also is developing a parachute system to safely recover the aircraft in the case of a component failure, and is interested in working with Search and Rescue. (United States)

•    Brendan Keefe is chief investigative reporter for WCPO 9 On Your Side, the ABC affiliate and E.W. Scripps flagship station in Cincinnati. He has won 38 regional Emmy awards for photography, investigative reporting, and editing. Brendan has been named Best Reporter by the Ohio Associated Press Media Editors (2011) and is the current AP Best Photographer with back-to-back wins (2012 & 2013). Brendan flew daily in Houston’s Chopper 2 as a helicopter reporter for five years. He recently launched WCPO’s Chopper 9, the only local helicopter in Cincinnati, as the inaugural reporter and FLIR camera operator. Brendan won a New York Emmy for his aerial coverage of New Orleans right after Hurricane Katrina. Brendan currently flies a heavily-modified DJI Phantom 1.1.1 with a Zenmus H3-2D gimbal, GoPro Hero3+ camera, 5.8 ghz transmitter, 7″” FPV monitor, and many customized systems he installed himself. Currently he flies the Phantom and makes aerial videos only as a modeler/hobbyist, however he teaches colleagues how to use the platform for their own projects. (United States)

•    Brian Morrow uses a Phantom 2 Vision for his photography business, and for providing images to the news media and other sources. (United States)

•    Mickey H. Osterreicher is of Counsel to Hiscock & Barclay, LLP in the Media & First Amendment Law Practice Area and serves as general counsel to the National Press Photographers Association (NPPA). He is a member of the New York State Bar Association Media Law Committee, the American Bar Association Communications Law Forum and the Media Law Resource Center (MLRC) Newsgathering committee. He is an award winning photojournalist with almost forty years’ experience in print and broadcast. His work has appeared in such publications as the New York Times, Time, Newsweek and USA Today as well as on ABC World News Tonight, Nightline, Good Morning America, NBC Nightly News and ESPN. As a lawyer, Mr. Osterreicher has been actively involved in such issues as: cameras in the courtroom, the federal shield law, media access, public photography, use of UAVs for Newsgathering and copyright infringement. He has helped to draft revised photography guidelines for many law enforcement agencies nationwide. In 2011 Mr. Osterreicher met with the NYPD to discuss improving police-press relations. He has also drafted updates for the New York State Bar Association Journalists’ Handbook and has been involved in addressing and rectifying many “anti-photography” statutes throughout the country. He writes regularly for JPG, the NPPA and the MLRC as well as other online publications and has been quoted in the news nationally on many of these issues. Mr. Osterreicher has done training with the Washington, D.C. Metro Police as well as the Chicago, Tampa and Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Departments in preparation for the NATO Summit and the Republican and Democratic National Conventions, respectively. He has been an adjunct lecturer in Photojournalism at SUNY at Buffalo and an adjunct law professor in media and the law at the University at Buffalo Law School. He was also a member on the advisory panel for Cameras in the Courtroom in Erie County and as an instructor for Press-Emergency Services Relations seminars in Erie County and Niagara County, New York. He has participated on panels nationwide, most recently speaking about the right to photograph and record in public at the Legal Officers Section of the International Association of Chiefs of Police during their 2012 annual meeting in San Diego and at Georgetown University Law Center during the Council for Court Excellence presentation on Police, Protests and Press Coverage. He has been a reserve deputy with the Erie County Sheriff’s Department since 1976. Mr. Osterreicher graduated cum laude in 1973 from SUNY at Buffalo with a Bachelor of Science degree in Photojournalism/Photography and received his Juris Doctor, cum laude from the University of Buffalo Law School in 1998. He is admitted to practice in New York State, U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York and the U.S. Supreme Court. (United States)

•    Kirk Tollett is owner/operator and consultant to several Radio and Low Power TV Stations. He is interested in using drone technology in our news gathering efforts. (United States)

•    Stuart Marlantes works in media production. For years, he’s been involved with newspapers, television, radio, and New Media. His background is actually very technical, and for quite a long time was pursuing a degree in Computer Science. Early in his university career he fell in love with telling stories and informing the public through photos, audio, and video. So he changed his course, started working for The Daily of the UW (the second largest newspaper by circulation in Seattle, WA), and set out on a new path. At around the same time that he switched career paths, he discovered drones, and spent roughly two years researching, learning, and watching the drone market. As a student, he didn’t have much money to buy an expensive drone aircraft, but saved and finally purchased one last year. When he returned to the University of Washington in the fall, he was ready.  He now flies on almost a weekly basis.

Matthew Schroyer
guest author
Matthew Schroyer is a drone and data journalist based in Urbana, Illinois.

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