Kickstarter, one of the most popular online fundraising sites, has launched a new category dedicated to helping journalists. I jumped on over to take a look and what’s the first thing that’s there? A fundraiser for an investigation into factory farms using aerial drone technology.
Consumer-level drones have evolved over the last three years from both an engineering point of view and quality of photography/video/battery life, etc. The current best option for anyone serious about jumping is a company called DGI. Their Phantom 2 Vision + generates some of the most amazing visuals yet – and can remotely fly for distances between 2,000-5,000 feet away.
What Will Potter, an independent journalist out of D.C.. is trying to do is fund an investigative expose using the Phantom drone as his eyes in the skies above factory farms.
“The latest trend is that the agriculture industry is even trying to ban photographs of farms taken from the air,” he writes. “It is unlikely that aerial photography can document animal abuse, but these industries are clearly concerned. So what are factory farms trying to hide? Will a drone allow us to see the scope of pollution caused by these industrial operations? I’m going to find out…”
Operating under current laws, Potter says he will document factory farms using his drone in multiple states, creating a short documentary and e-book on his findings, and even sharing his aerial evidence with the media and policymakers. And yes, he expects to likely run into those who disagree with what he’s doing.
“Because an investigation like this hasn’t been attempted before, I cannot make any guarantee of what I will be able to document,” he writes. “However, that’s really the case with every investigative journalism project. I am accustomed to pushing through setbacks and detours in the course of my reporting, and I am confident that I will be able to do the same with this project. An additional risk/challenge is that, even though this photography is lawful, I will undoubtedly face harassment by factory farm owners or workers on site. I am committed to pursuing this lawful investigation and these are risks I am willing to face.”
Jump here to help fund Potter’s Kickstarter. Only a few days in, it appears that he will easily crush his initial goal of $30,000.