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CNN announces launch of drone-based newsgathering division

The technology behind "CNN AIR" has already been used in the network's coverage of LA flooding, DNC and RNC


Scott Eric Kaufman
August 19, 2016 4:20PM (UTC)

On Thursday, CNN announced that it had created a division of Aerial Imagery and Reporting (AIR), which will feature two full-time drone operators whose jobs it will be "to fully integrate aerial imagery and reporting across all CNN networks and platforms."

CNN has already employed the technology on a limited basis during the current flooding in Louisiana, the Democratic and Republican National Conventions, and Anderson Cooper's coverage of the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.

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All of that reporting was done under the aegis of the Federal Aviation Administration's "Pathfinders" program, the goal of which is primarily to discover how drones -- or "unmanned aerial systems," as CNN prefers to call them -- can be safely integrated into American airspace. The network will continue this work, as well as its partnership with the Georgia Tech Research Institute.

“CNN’s cutting-edge development of technology to enhance the way we tell stories is a part of our DNA," Terence Burke, Senior Vice President of National News, said in a statement. "We are proud to continue the tradition with CNN AIR, and to establish a unit that will expand our technological capabilities for newsgathering."

CNN AIR will overseen by CNN’s Senior Director of National Newsgathering Technology, Greg Agvent.


Scott Eric Kaufman

Scott Eric Kaufman is an assistant editor at Salon. He taught at a university, but then thought better of it. Follow him at @scottekaufman or email him at skaufman@salon.com.

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