Instructor develops code of ethics for drone journalism

Published on June 6, 2014
College of the North Atlantic journalism instructor Jeff Ducharme prepares a drone for flight. Ducharme has developed a drone journalism code of conduct that his students will have to follow when using the unmanned aerial vehicle for news gathering.
Submitted photo

College of the North Atlantic went where no Canadian journalism school had gone before last year and now aims to ensure its students get there safely and ethically.

 The college was the first post-secondary institution in Canada to announce instruction in drone journalism and is one of only  four post-secondary institutions in North America currently teaching the subject.

Now, College of the North Atlantic journalism instructor Jeff Ducharme has written a code of ethics he plans to use when instructing his students on the use of drones for news gathering

The code covers 21 points from ethics to laws to operation and Ducharme said he expects the code will evolve with the technology as new issues and challenges arise.

 “There is concern in the public about drone journalism and the potential invasion of privacy,” Ducharme said. “I think it’s incumbent on us to put something in place to address those concerns.

 “Drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles, in journalism and other professions are becoming common. In journalism, we have to show that we can operate these craft in a responsible, safe and unobtrusive way.”

He said he’s hopeful such a code will help address the current amount of misinformation in the public about what drones are capable of and how they might be used.

“I think that if the public knows such a code exists and if most media outlets adopt it ... then the public will see that we can and will operate in a responsible matter,” he said.

The college offers a two-year diploma and one-year post-diploma journalism program. Drone journalism is taught as part of the program’s photojournalism course.