Sensors and Journalism


Endnotes: The Landscape

1 Indeed computational and data journalism form a strong core of the Tow Center’s research program. Readers of this report may also consider reading the work of Tow Fellows Jonathan Stray, Nicholas Diakopoulos, and Alex Howard.

2 “All the time” is a turn of phrase used in this research study. As those who follow the news about algorithms in financial systems know, sometimes logging data as frequently as once a millisecond is too slow.

Endnotes: Sensors and Sensibilia

1 C.E. is the abbreviation for Common Era, a scholarly alternative naming of the traditional calendar era, Anno Domini (A.D.). Similarly, B.C.E. is an abbreviation for Before Common Era.

Endnotes: The Characteristics of Sensors

1 These qualities are adapted from the widely cited textbook The Sensor Technology Handbook, edited by Jon Wilson. It mainly explores electronic sensors, but the qualities included here are broadly applicable.

Endnotes: Case Studies

1 Readers who would like to study innovative journalistic uses of satellite data should read Paving Paradise, Craig Pittman and Matt Waite’s book about Florida’s vanishing wetlands.

Endnotes: Houston Chronicle

1 The EPA’s health effect screening levels are set at the point equal to the risk of one additional person getting cancer per million of population.

Endnotes: Public Lab

1 The Knight Foundation also funds part of the Tow Center.

2 Emergency Response Management Agency, Deepwater Gulf Response Map, http://gomex.erma. 3 Public Lab, “Wilkinson Bay (Northeast), Louisiana,” 22 Jul. 2010, wilkinson-bay-northeast-louisiana/2010-07-22.

Endnotes: USA Today

1 Peter Eisler and Alison Young, “Some Neighborhoods Dangerously Contaminated by Lead Fallout,” USA Today, 20 Apr. 2012, 04-20/smelting-lead-contamination-soil-testing/54420418/1.

2 Ibid.

Endnotes: Sun Sentinel

1 Mark Puente, “St Petersburg Police Take-home Car Perk Under Scrutiny,” Tampa Bay Times, 24 May 2013, generous-police-perk-on-take-home/2122888.

2 Akintola Akintoye, Matthias Beck, and Cliff Hardcastle, eds., Public-Private Partnerships: Managing Risks and Opportunities (Oxford: Blackwell Science, 2003).

Endnotes: WNYC

1 Guan Yang was looking to make some money for Hack Manhattan, a tax-exempt nonprofit. He’d produced 50 kits with custom circuit boards selling at $20 apiece, across a gross profit of about $8 each. Had he sold all 50, he’d have made Hack Manhattan a profit of about $400. Their more popular breadboard versions had profits of about $4 each.

2 Yes, this can be read as shorthand for “The People Formerly Known As The Audience,” as per media professor Jay Rosen’s seminal blog post of that title from June 30, 2006. See

Endnotes: Planet Money

1 The Jensen brothers won’t disclose the insurance company with whom they work, saying only that theirs was a difficult policy to procure. At least two companies, Hill & Usher and Transport Risk, do write insurance policies for camera drones working inside the United States.

2 Duy Linh Tu, “Video Now: The Form, Cost, and Effect of Video Journalism,” Tow Center for Digital Journalism, Columbia University, Feb. 2013,

Endnotes: The Washington Post

1 This is an approximate figure. In fact, the accuracy of latitude and longitude numbers with decimal points (or decimal degrees) changes depending on the location’s proximity to the equator. The farther away from the equator, the more precise the number.

Endnotes: Industry Overview

1 The FAA also sends letters to small drone pilots who fly their craft “for benefit,” warning that the next action may be prosecution if the pilots don’t stop flying.

2 The NPPA’s general counsel, Mickey Osterreicher, led the project. The Tow Center helped to design the survey with the aid of Matt Waite, a professor of journalism practice at the University of Nebraska; and Charles D. Tobin and Charles R. Naftalin, both partners at the law firm of Holland & Knight.

3 That figure may have double-counted some drone use, where multiple staff members of a single company referred to the same drone flights. It may have also missed uses by companies whose employees did not see the survey. The survey does not provide data that can be extrapolated to the entire industry.

4 The Daily News posted it to its servers and incorporated the video and stills into its news coverage. Wilson was flying a DJI Phantom, a threepound quad copter that retailed for less than $1,000.

4 Bill Hutchinson, “Drone Captures Scene at East Harlem Explosion That Flattened Two Buildings,” New York Daily News, 13 Mar. 2014, harlem-explosion-scene-video-article-1.1719988.

5 Beto Lopez, “Valentine’s Day Pillow Fight 2014,”

6 Brian Emfinger, “Arkansas Tornado Damage Aerial Video 4-27-2014,” YouTube, 27 Apr. 2014,

7 Duy Linh Tu, “Video Now: The Form, Cost, and Effect of Video Journalism,” Tow Center for Digital Journalism, Columbia University, Feb. 2014,

8 Jeremy Barr, “Photographer Says Spokesman-Review’s Drone-shot Video Occurred in a Gray Area,' ” Poynter, 3 Jan. 2014, reviews-drone-shot-video-occurred-in-a-gray-area/.

Endnotes: Syed

1 Louis Brandeis and Samuel Warren,“The Right to Privacy,” 4 Harv. L. Rev. 5 (1890).

2 See Restatement (Second) of Torts Section 652.

3 See, e.g,. ACLU v. Alvarez (7th Cir. 2012); Glik v. Cunniffe (1st Cir. 2011). 4 Askins v. U.S. Dept. of Homeland Sec. (S.D. Cal. Sept. 20, 2013).

5 Of course, Jones dealt with the law enforcement use of drones under a Fourth Amendment standard. This would not apply to private newsgathering entities. Nevertheless, the court’s logic shows that common-law trespass doctrine is alive and well, and that courts are not afraid to use it when dealing with sensing devices.

6 The doctrine of nuisance, however, would address any invasion that causes adverse, substantial, or unreasonable interference with the enjoyment of one’s own land, even without the physical invasion required by trespass. A sensor-equipped drone or a sensor emitting disruptive lights or frequencies could be subject to this claim, so long as there is demonstrable harm.

7 Whether one can affix sensors on public property would involve a case-by-case analysis. Some jurisdictions have restrictions on what can be placed on trees in a public park, for example.

8 Audio recording of conversations is well-regulated by both federal and state law. Most states permit audio recording so long as one party, which could be the recording party, to the conversation consents. A handful of states—California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and Washington—prohibit audio recording of a conversation unless all parties to that conversation have consented. Of course, this requirement of consent extends only to conversations where there is some expectation of privacy, but any sensor that can collect audio data should be generally aware of these state-level requirements.

9 Public officials, public figures, and limited-purpose public figures must demonstrate a higher standard of fault by the reporter. These individuals would have to show that the reporter either knew that the reporting (such as the sensor readings or analysis) was false, or entertained serious doubts as to its veracity. This turns on the reporter’s actual state of mind at the time of publication. This is a very high burden of proof. 10 Restatement (Second) of Torts, Sec. 652E.

Endnotes: Culver

1 Daily Drone: Seemingly Endless Waters in Mississippi, YouTube, 12 May 2011, com/watch?v=MI2d3ui2vYw.

2 “Cicada Tracker,” Radiolab and WNYC,

3 Andy Stettler, “How We Crowdsourced Breaking News: Bomb Device' Reported at King of Prussia Mall,” The Reporter, 4 Jan. 2012, crowdsourced-breaking-news.html.

4 Alison Young and Peter Eisler, et al., “Ghost Factories,” USA Today, 19 Apr. 2012, http://

5 Sally Kestin and John Maines, “Above the Law,” Sun Sentinel, speeding-cops/.

6 C.G. Christians, “The Ethics of Privacy,” Journalism Ethics: A Philosophical Approach, Ed. Christopher Meyers (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010), 203.

7 Christians (2010), 205.

8 Daniel J. Solove, Nothing to Hide: The False Tradeoff Between Privacy and Security (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2011).

9 Yves-Alexandre de Montijoye, et al., “Unique in the Crowd: The Privacy Bounds of Human Mobility,” Scientific Reports, 25 Mar. 2013, srep01376.html.

10 Jim Colgan, “Mapping the Storm Clean-up,” WNYC, 30 Dec. 2010, 2-mapping-storm-clean/.

11 Solove (2011), 30.

12 Limor Fried, “Minimizing Risk is Easy: Adopt a Bill of Rights,” New York Times, 8 Sep. 2013, for-the-internet-of-things.

Endnotes: Stearns

1 “Poynter Publishes Definitive New Journalism Ethics Book,” Poynter Institute, 11 Sep. 2013, book.

2 C.W. Anderson, “The Public is Still a Problem, and Other Lessons From Ŕebuilding the News,'” Nieman Journalism Lab, 18 Jan. 2013, still-a-problem-and-other-lessons-from-rebuilding-the-news/.

3 “The Laws, Ethics, and Politics of Sensor Journalism,” panel at the Sensor Journalism Workshop, Tow Center for Digital Journalism, Columbia University, 6 Jun. 2013, sensors-the-laws-ethics-and-politics-of-sensor-journalism.

4 Fergus Bell and Eric Carvin, “Social Newsgathering: Charting an Ethical Course,” Online News Association, 6 Mar. 2014, course/.

5 Poynter replaced the traditional “minimize harm” philosophy with “engage community as an end rather than as a means.” See a discussion of the changes here: the-next-journalism/223657/why-be-transparent-is-now-a-better-ethical-principle-than-actindependently/.

6 Eloïse Gratton, “If Personal Information is Privacy’s Gatekeeper, then Risk of Harm is the Key: A Proposed Method for Determining What Counts as Personal Information,” Albany Law Journal of Science and Technology, Vol. 24, No. 1 (2013),

7 Ibid.

8 Alistair Croll, “Big Data is Our Generation’s Civil Rights Issue, and We Don’t Know It,” Radar, 2 Aug. 2012, we-dont-know-it.html.

9 “Civil Rights Principles for the Era of Big Data,” The Leadership Conference, 2014, www. 10 For a good discussion of some of these issues related to the history of surveillance and communities of color, see the summary of a panel discussion held by Free Press, www.freepress. net/blog/2013/11/01/panelists-say-surveillance-nothing-new-communities-color and remarks from Amalia Deloney at the Media Consortium meeting, delivered in February 2014, www.magnet. org/sites/default/files/amalia~T~MC~c~omments~m~edia~c~onsortium.pdf.

11 Jonathan Peters, “Updating the Privacy Protection Act for the Digital Era: Law Protecting Journalists From Searches Didn’t Anticipate Cloud Computing,” Columbia Journalism Review, 30 Jan. 2012,

12 Alistair Croll, 2012.

Endnotes: Schroyer

1 Irving Washington, “Be Open to Open Source,” Online News Association, 30 Jan. 2013,

2 David Kline and Kevin Rivette, “Discovering New Value in Intellectual Property,” Harvard Business Review, Jan./Feb. 2000. R. Polk Wagner, “Information Wants to Be Free: Intellectual Property and the Mythologies of Control,” Columbia Law Review, Vol. 103, No. 4 (May 2003) 995–1034.

3 Brian Heater, “Nest Protect Review: A Smoke Detector for the Smartphone Generation,” Engadget, 20 Dec. 2013,

4 Nicholas Collins, Handmade Electronic Music: The Art of Hardware Hacking (New York: Routledge, 2006).

5 Nicholas Diakopoulus, “Algorithlmic Accountability Reporting on the Investigation of Black Boxes,” Columbia Journalism School, Tow Center for Digital Journalism, Dec. 2013,

6 Rakesh Sharma, “Hardware Is Not Just Śoftware Wrapped In Plastic,' According to VC Bilal Zuberi,” Forbes, 20 Oct. 2013, software-wrapped-in-plastic-according-to-vc-bilal-zuberi/.

7 James Bessen, Jennifer Ford, and Michael Meurer, “The Private and Social Costs of Patent Trolls,” Regulation, Winter 2011–2012, regulation/2012/5/v34n4-1.pdf.

8 Alexander Hars and Shaosong Ou, “Working for Free? Motivations for Participating in Open- Source Projects,” International Journal of Electronic Commerce, Vol. 6, No. 3 (Spring 2002) 25–39.

9 Matt Wynn, “Introduction to Open-source GIS Tools for Journalists,” Poynter Institute, 19 Sep. 2011, for-journalists/.

10 Sukwon Choi, et al., “Micro Sensor Node for Air Pollutant Monitoring: Hardware and Software Issues,” Sensors, 9.10 (2009): 7970–7987.

11 D. M. Holstius, et al., “Field Calibrations of a Low-cost Aerosol Sensor at a Regulatory Monitoring Site in California,” Atmospheric Measurement Techniques Discussions, 7.1 (2014) 605–632.

12 Hars and Ou, 2002.

13 Chris Anderson, Free: The Future of a Radical Price (New York: Hyperion, 2009).

14 Matthew Schroyer, “A Call for Journalists and Makers to Join Hands Around IOT and Evidencebased Journalism,” The Mental Munition Factory, 27 Feb. 2014, www.mentalmunition. com/2014/02/a-call-for-journalists-and-makers-to.html.

15 Karim R. Lakhani and Eric von Hippel, “How Open Source Software Works: Free' User-to-user Assistance,” Research Policy, Vol. 32, Iss. 6 (June 2003), 923–943.

16 Josh Lerner and Jean Tirole, “Some Simple Economics of Open Source,” The Journal of Industrial Economics, Vol. 50, No. 2 (Jun. 2002), 197–234. See also Margaret Elliot and Walt Scacchi, “Communicating and Mitigating Conflict in Open Source Software Development Projects,” 2002, melliott/commossd.pdf.

17 Ethan Mollik, “The Dynamics of Crowdfunding: An Exploratory Study,” Journal of Business Venturing, Vol. 29, Iss. 1 (Jan. 2014), 1–16.

18 Joel West, “How Open is Open Enough?: Melding Proprietary and Open Source Platform Strategies,” Research Policy, Vol. 32, Iss. 7 (Jul. 2003), 1259–1285.

19 Ibid.

Endnotes: Hord

1 FCC Office of Engineering and Technology Web site,

2 FCC Enforcement Bureau Web site,

3 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR)-2010, Title 47, Vol. 1, Part 15, Subpart A, section 3k.

4 CFR-2010, Title 47, Vol. 1, Part 15, Subpart B, section 101a.

5 CFR-2010, Title 47, Vol. 1, Part 15, Subpart C, section 201a.

6 CFR-2010, Title 47, Vol. 1, Part 15, Subpart A, section 23a.

7 The last major revision to the FCC rules was in 1989. Kenneth R. Carter, “Unlicensed to Kill: A Brief History of the Part 15 Rules,” info, Vol. 11, Iss. 5 (2009) 8–18.

8 Federal Communications Commission, Order and consent decree, Part ii, 31 Apr. 2012,

9 CFR-2010 Title 47, Vol. 1, Part 15, Subpart A, section 3p.

10 Federal Communications Commission, Memorandum of opinion on the above cited case, 30 Apr. 2008, 11 See, for instance, the “Wave Bubble” cellular jamming device, wavebubble/index.html.

12 For a good example of trouble caused by using illegally marketed electronics, see http://, which is an enforcement citation regarding a wireless video camera system.

13 CFR-2010, Title 47, Vol. 1, Part 15, Subpart C, section 212.

Endnotes: Cooper

1 Diana Marina Cooper, “A Licensing Approach to Regulation of Open Robotics,” Robot Law, eds. Ryan Calo, Ian Kerr, and Michael Froomkin (Edward Edgar, forthcoming 2015), initially presented at the We Robot Conference, Stanford Law School, Apr. 2013, werobot/files/2013/04/Cooper~D~iana.pdf. Ryan Calo, “Open Robotics,” Maryland Law Review, Vol. 70, No. 3 (2011), 103.

2 Ibid.

3 “What is Open Journalism and What is Its Appeal?” Open Journalism Report of the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers, 2012, open-journalism-executive-summary-download.

4 Ibid.

5 Diana Marina Cooper, 2013.

6 Ibid.

7 Ryan Calo, 2011.

8 Ibid.

9 Ibid.

10 Ibid.

11 Diana Marina Cooper, 2013.

12 Jason Koebler, “Oregon Company to Sell Drone Defense Technology to Public,” US News & World Reports, 15 Mar. 2013, defense-technology-to-public.

13 Diana Marina Cooper, 2013.

14 Diana Marina Cooper, “Effects of Cloud Computing on Open Source Compliance,” Linux Journal, Iss. 229, May 2013, compliance.

15 Mozilla Foundation, About MPL 2.0: Revision Process and Changes FAQ, MPL/2.0/Revision-FAQ.html.

16 American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing, “Code of Ethics,” Remote-Sensing.html.

17 Ibid.

Endnotes: Waite and Osterreicher

1 Federal Aviation Administration, “Busting Myths About the FAA and Unmanned Aircraft,” 26 Feb. 2014,

2 Federal Aviation Administration, The FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012, 1 Feb. 2012,

3 Ben Gielow, “Small UAS Rule Release Delayed Until November 2014,” Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, 14 Jan. 2014,

4 Huerta v. Pirker, 2014,

5 Federal Aviation Administration, “FAA Statement,” 7 Mar. 2014,

6 Federal Aviation Administration, Integration of Civil Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) in the National Airspace System (NAS) Roadmap; Notice of Final Privacy Requirements for UAS Test Sites; and UAS Comprehensive Plan, Nov. 2013, cfm?newsId=15334.

7 Federal Aviation Administration, Integration of Civil Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) in the National Airspace System (NAS) Roadmap, First Edition (2013), 52, initiatives/uas/media/UAS~R~oadmap~2~013.pdf.

8 Ibid., 35.

9 Ibid., 58.

10 Federal Aviation Administration, UAS Comprehensive Plan, 6 Nov. 2013, office~o~rg/headquarters~o~ffices/agi/reports/media/UAS~C~omprehensive~P~lan.pdf.

11 Ibid., 33.

12 U.S. House, Explanatory Statement to the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2014,

13 Ibid., 6.

14 Ibid., 7.

15 Texas House, H.B. No. 912, State of Texas, 17 May 2013,

16 Ibid.

17 Idaho Senate, S.B. No. 1134, State of Idaho, 2013,

18 Ibid.

19 Iowa House, H.B. 2289, State of Iowa, Apr. 2014,

20 Ibid.

21 Ibid.

22 Ibid.

23 Georgia House, H.B. No. 846, State of Georgia, 28 Jan. 2014,

24 Washington House, H.B. No. 2178, State of Washington,

25 Ibid.

26 Washington State Legislature, RCW 9.92.020,

27 H.B. No. 2178.

28 Ibid.

29 Ibid.

30 Wisconsin State Legislature, A.B. 203, 2013,

31 Ibid.

32 Ibid.

Endnotes: Sullivan

1 An aurei was a gold coin and monetary unit of ancient Rome, used from Caesar to Constantine I.

2 Associated Press, “The City; Jets Sued on Death as Result of Show,” 18 Nov. 1981, retrieved from

3 A person injured by a sensor, or drone deploying a sensor, might also bring a claim against the manufacture of the drone or sensor, most likely alleging strict liability, which holds the manufacturer liable if the product was defective and a consumer of the product was injured. A negligence claim, however, is far more likely.

4 Each state has its own rules, but as a general matter state courts rely heavily on the Second Restatement of Torts, a treatise that surveys and summarizes the current state of the law of torts in the country.

5 Different jurisdictions have established certain exceptions that limit duty within certain categories of public policy concerns (including the social value and the usefulness of the conduct), of which newsgathering could theoretically be one. No case has yet tested this proposition.

6 This calculus of negligence, called the Hand formula, has limited applicability.

7 Contributory and comparative negligence are important but complex doctrines and have been set aside here in favor of a more basic overview. They would likely arise in a case with a varied set of facts not contemplated by our hypothetical.

Endnotes: Graves

1 Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel, The Elements of Journalism (New York: Three Rivers Press, 2001) 41.

2 Barry Sussman, “Watergate, 25 Years Later: Myths and Collusion,” Making News: A Study in the Construction of Reality, auth. Gaye Tuchman (New York: The Free Press, 1997), available at

3 Dean Starkman, “The Hamster Wheel,” Columbia Journalism Review, 14 Sep. 2010, cover~s~tory/the~h~amster~w~heel.php?page=all. See also Pew Research Center, “The Changing Newsroom,” 21 Jul. 2008,

4 Sylvain Parasie, “Data-driven Revelations? Continuities and Changes in the Epistemology of Investigative Journalism,” Digital Journalism (forthcoming).

5 Philip Meyer, Precision Journalism: A Reporter’s Introduction to Social Science Methods (Indiana University Press, 1973), 3. See also Sylvain Parasie and Eric Dagiral, “Data-driven Journalism and the Public Good: Ćomputer-assisted-reporters' and programmer-journalistsín Chicago,” New Media & Society, 18 Nov. 2012.

6 Chris Anderson, “The End of Theory: The Data Deluge Makes the Scientific Method Obsolete,” Wired, 23 Jun. 2008.

7 Danah Boyd and Kate Crawford, “Critical Questions for Big Data,” Information, Communication & Society, Jun. 2012.

8 Michael Fienen, “We Speak for the Data,” Ground Water, Feb. 2013.

9 Katherine Fink and Michael Schudson, “The Rise of Contextual Journalism, 1950s−2000s,” Journalism, Feb. 2013. See also Kevin Barnhurst, “The Makers of Meaning: National Public Radio and the New Long Journalism, 1980–2000,” Political Communication, 2003.

Endnotes: Stauffer

1 J.G. Proakis and D.K. Manolakis, Digital Signal Processing: Principles, Algorithms and Applications, 4th Edition (Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Prentice Hall, 2006).

2 FlowingData, “Where People Run in Major Cities,” 5 Feb. 2014,

3 Margaret McKenna, “Beautiful Maps, and the Lies They Tell,” CodeKeeper,

4 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, “Guidance on Choosing a Sampling Design for Environmental Data Collection,” EPA QA/G-5S, Washington, D.C., 2002.

5 Bonnie Berkowitz, et. al., “Shots Heard Around the District,” Washington Post, 2 Nov. 2013,

6 L.A. Currie, “Detection and Quantification Limits: Origins and Historical Overview,” Analytica Chimica Acta, 391, 1998, 127–134.

7 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 2002.

8 National Oceanography and Atmospheric Administration, “Accuracy Versus Precision,” NOAA Celebrates 20 Years, 2007.

9 Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, “The 3 Levels of Credible Data,”

10 Hach Method 10360, “Luminescence Measurement of Dissolved Oxygen in Water and Wastewater and for Use in the Determination of BOD5 and cBOD5,” 2011,

11 Margaret McKenna, “Beautiful Maps, and the Lies They Tell.”

12 Jeff Shaner, “Smartphones, Tablets and GPS Accuracy,” ArcGIS Resources, 15 Jul. 2013,

13 Sally Kestin and John Maines, “Cops Among Florida’s Worst Speeders, Sun Sentinel Investigation Finds,” Sun Sentinel, 11 Feb. 2012, fl-speeding-cops-20120211,0,3706919.story.

14 National Information Standards Organization, Understanding Metadata (Bethesda: NISO Press, 2004).

15 A. G. Wiggins, R.D. Newman, and K. Crowston Stevenson, “Mechanisms for Data Quality and Validation in Citizen Science,” Proceedings of IEEE eScience Conference, Stockholm, Sweden, 2011.

16 C.C. Wilderman and J. J. Monismith, “Marcellus Shale Gas Extraction: A Study Design and Protocol for Volunteer Monitoring,” 2012, files/2012/07/Marcellus-Shale-Volunteer-Monitoring-Manual-2.0.pdf.

Endnotes: Recommendations

1 Danah Boyd and Kate Crawford, “Six Provocations for Big Data,” A Decade in Internet Time: Symposium on the Dynamics of the Internet and Society, 21 Sep. 2011, or