Send in the drones (to disaster areas), please

There’s this pet peeve of mine about disaster coverage by news media, and it’s been the case again in early coverage of the earthquakes in Nepal and devastation in the city of Kathmandu.

Of course, photojournalists and news videographers shoot images of the worst damage. Editors select the best (worst) photos and video. That’s what journalists do. It’s what audiences want. (Eyewitnesses with mobile phones exhibit the same behavior.)

But if you pored over multiple news sources in the last couple days, as I’ve done, you probably have the impression that all of Kathmandu is rubble. You can be forgiven if you have the impression that nary a building is standing there.

The video above is from a drone flying above some of Kathmandu’s worst-hit areas. It shows what I’ve been looking for: not just images of the destruction, but the damage in context to what else is in the area. Like buildings still standing. Lots of them.

Let’s hope that as drones become a commonplace news-gathering tool by news organizations in the future, that aerial drone video footage of disaster areas — earthquakes, floods, wildfires, tornadoes, hurricanes — supplements and complements the disaster-porn images that everyone wants to see.

This is not about downplaying the scope of such disasters, but rather about telling the whole story for the benefit of those who aren’t at the scene.

Author: Steve Outing Steve Outing is a Boulder, Colorado-based media futurist, digital-news innovator, consultant, journalist, and educator. ... Need assistance with media-company future strategy? Get in touch with Steve!