Journalists from Pakistan visit the Missouri Drone Journalism Program

Video By Zach Garcia

Earlier last month, the Missouri Drone Journalism Program was asked to give a group of visiting Pakistani journalists a demonstration and brief explanation of the program and its goals. The journalists were brought to tour the United States through an exchange set up by the East-West Center, which “promotes better relations and understanding among the people and nations of the United States, Asia, and the Pacific through cooperative study, research, and dialog.”

It works similar to a foreign exchange program: it seeks out a group of journalists from both the United States and Pakistan with backgrounds in different media, and sends them on a two-week tour of the each others’ country.

While the visiting journalists were not originally planning on visiting the Missouri Drone Journalism Program, we jumped at the opportunity. We were unsure how a group of Pakistanis would react to such a controversial technology being used in journalism, and was pleasantly surprised when the Pakistanis expressed.

The visiting group was most interested in the potential implementation of drone in dangerous situations like suicide bombings and natural disasters. After introducing them to the Program, we showed the group a couple of the articles and stories we’ve produced. We then we gave the journalists the opportunity to see the drones in action and even taught a few of them how to fly.

Matthew Dickinson gave them a brief lesson and then put the controls in their own hands. After about 15 minutes of flying, the visiting journalists had their fill of flight for the day. Most were able to get the drone into the air after a couple tries, an impressive feat given the steep learning curve most experience with our models.

The slideshow below shows a couple of the visiting journalists first attempt at drone flight.