Fresno Bee newspaper testing drones for covering news, taking pictures

The Fresno Bee is testing a small drone aircraft that could possibly be used for news reporting purposes, the Business Journal reported this week.

“This is a new thing and it’s way down the pike,” Tom Cullinan, president and publisher of the Fresno Bee, told the Business Journal. “We saw it demonstrated and the cost is reasonable.”

The quadcopter would possibly be used for aerial photography of accidents, fires, farmland and waterways, the Journal reported. 

Cullinan said the remote-controlled drone would also come in handy in situations where reporters are unable to get to a news scene.

From Amazon.com to law enforcement agencies, the use of small drones is on the rise.

In Australia, a man and woman were arrested when they allegedly attempted to use a drone to smuggle drugs into a Melbourne prison.

Small drones with transmitters can be purchased from about $600 to $1,200, the Business Journal reported.

The quadcopter that the newspaper is considering using would cost less than $500, said Gary Funk, Bee technology editor. The small unmanned aircraft would carry a GoPro brand mountable camera.

But there are limitations. The drone can stay in the air for only 20 minutes, and the paper would also have to take into account other restrictions imposed by the Federal Aviation Administration.

The operator would also have to learn how to control a camera and the aircraft. 

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