CNN’s news coverage takes to the skies with new dedicated drone division

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Tyler Olson / 123RF
Drones are doing much more than just delivering packages — now they’re helping to deliver the news. CNN on Thursday announced the launch of the CNN Aerial Imagery and Reporting division as part of an effort to include more aerial images with its stories. The CNN Air division will use two unmanned drones with two full-time operators to expand imagery for itself, as well as for parent companies Turner Broadcasting and Time Warner.

Last year, the Federal Aviation Administration selected three companies, including CNN, to research safe methods for the use of drones in reporting. The news company has partnered with the Georgia Tech Research Institute on the effort. As part of the research, CNN continues to develop a framework to help drones safely enter the national airspace.

While the dedicated news division is new, drone reporting isn’t unfamiliar to the news organization. CNN has used unmanned aerial systems to capture footage on the flooding in Louisiana as well as the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, both presidential nominating conventions, and more.

“CNN’s cutting-edge development of technology to enhance the way we tell stories is a part of our DNA,” said Terence Burke, senior vice president of National News. “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 joins about two dozen other CNN news divisions, from radio to internet.

CNN’s announcement comes just as the FAA’s new drone rules went into effect. The rules stipulate that CNN’s drone operators must be able to see the device during the entire flight. The new commercial guidelines also prohibit the drones from flying over people.

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