Images from above

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Already in 1907, pigeons were used to take photos from above. Two years later, the first aerial photography taken from an airplane. Aerial photo from planes was mainly for military use, but also for hobby photographers and journalists. The latter part is the focus for Turo Uskalis presentation at the ViSmedia Conference. He is head of Journalism at the University of Jyväskylä, Finland. 

Helicopters have long been used in journalism, but camera drones as easier and cheaper to use, though there are some constraints due to aviation law and short battery life. Satellite images overcome these obstacles, and satellite companies are currently providing images for free.

Satellite imagery is a powerful storytelling tool, especially suitable for investigative reporting in remote places, high-risk or inaccessible locations, especially suitable for global investigative reporting, whereas drones tend to be mostly used in local reporting. News organisations are unlikely to develop in-house satellite journalism capabilities, because satellite companies currently provide imagery for free. Still, special journalism education is needed to analyse the satellite images correctly.  

Thomas Wold