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You Think Chris Christie’s Beach Photos Were Great? Just Wait Until Drone Journalism Really Takes Off

From Poynter:

By now, you’ve probably seen the pictures: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, surrounded by his family and friends, sitting on a public beach that had been closed to the public amidst a state government shutdown.

In a write-up for the (Newark, New Jersey) Star-Ledger, which published the photos, photographer Andrew Mills described how he caught the governor by acting on a hunch and booking a private plane to take him along the Jersey shoreline.

His hunch paid off: Christie became the No. 1 trending topic on Twitter, #beachgate quickly became fodder for meme crafters and congratulatory messages from other journalists poured in.

Mills’ photos give us the opportunity to think about how journalists can use photographs and videos taken from above — whether by helicopter, plane or drone — in really creative ways to break news and tell stories. How does shooting from above help the audience? How does it help tell a more nuanced story? And what kinds of stories can local newsrooms tell with these shots beyond tracking traffic, animals escaping, or the latest local fire?

Aerial shots — like the ones Mills took or the ones taken by drone operators — give you “the ability to offer perspective on a thing,” says Matt Waite, a Professor of Practice at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln who started the Drone Journalism Lab and (full disclosure) sometimes teaches drone workshops for The Poynter Institute. “I have described drones as purpose-built context machines. They are designed to put things into perspective for audiences especially anything that involves large spatial topics.”

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