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University of Wisconsin–Madison

Author: Kathleen Bartzen Culver

What you need to know about drones in j-schools

Five years ago when I began researching the ethical implications of using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in journalism, a trusted mentor told me it might not be the best choice for a research agenda. After all, I couldn’t be sure drones would ever truly become a “thing” in newsrooms. Fast-forward to this spring, when that same person asked me to do a drone demo in their class.


Drones are, indeed, a thing in journalism, and they’re only going to grow. This leaves educators — already exhausted from keeping up with nonstop innovations from podcasting to Snapchat — wondering how to deal with this new tool. Do we all really have to now develop pilot and airspace expertise in addition to AP Style, interviewing, law, ethics and a dizzying array of platform options?


“In some ways, we’re kind of in a pioneer mode right now. If we do this well, we’re more likely to get the public’s trust and not get regulated out of existence.” – Al Tompkins

The short answer is: “No.” Not every J-School instructor needs to be licensed to fly a drone. But, I would argue, every one of us needs to understand drones as a tool and a trend, and every program should be thinking now about where and how we can incorporate them in our curricula.

Drones in the Airspace and the Newsroom

When Congress set the Federal Aviation Administration on a course to figure out how to safely incorporate UAVs in the national airspace, they did so in part because civilian drones were something of an inevitability, but also because they were certain to become big business. Some analysts argue drones in the U.S. could be a $100 billion concern by 2020. Drones offer safety, convenience and cost efficiency to industries well beyond journalism. Insurance companies are interested in them to verify damage involved in claims. Golf course managers can deploy them to manage watering practices. And meteorological researchers can monitor weather with them.


Newsrooms can use them for a whole host of reporting endeavors. Take recent hurricanes as an example. A news organization could use a drone to:

  • capture still and video images, such as surveying damage from flooding
  • live-stream video, such as covering a post-disaster fundraising event with Facebook Live
  • map terrain, such as documenting loss of costal areas to rising sea levels
  • sensing data, such as measuring air quality during reconstruction

Regulations Abound

That reporting, however, falls under what the FAA labels “commercial use.” For the agency charged with determining how drones can be used, such commercial uses mean stiffer regulation. Hobbyist users have constraints, as well, but commercial users now are required to get what’s known as Part 107 certification before using drones. Whether use of drones in journalism education qualifies as a commercial use is not a settled question. But the safe and responsible choice for educators looking to incorporate drones in class reporting projects is to ensure a 107-certified and sufficiently insured pilot in command is on hand for all drone flights. That may be the instructor or a student or a local journalist you partner with.


Even if you’re never going to go for Part 107 or fly a drone, it’s important to understand the basic restrictions and share them with your students. Part 107 has many nuances and details, but most importantly, it bars:

  • commercial use of UAVs weighing more than 55 pounds
  • UAV flight above 400 feet above ground level in most cases (tall objects may involve variations on this)
  • night flight
  • flights over people not involved in the operation of the UAV
  • reckless or careless operation
  • flight in restricted airspace without permission (airspace restrictions vary based on size and location of an airport)
  • flight beyond the operator’s visual line of sight

The FAA allows applications for waivers for such things as night flight or flight over people, though the latter is rare.

Considering Flight

Matt Waite, who founded the Drone Journalism Lab at the University of Nebraska, says the first step for any educator considering using drones is assessing the terrain on your own campus, from how open your risk management staff are to your proximity to airports. “Insurance and risk are your biggest obstacles,” he says. “Many campuses have banned drones or put in place strict policies that aren’t friendly to journalism. You need to talk to your campus risk managers immediately.”


The next step is further due diligence. Waite notes the complexity of FAA rules and cautioned that it’s not enough to rely on students or others who claim they’re registered or licensed. Educators need to truly dig in and understand the legal environment and ensure that operations are safe and lawful.

“The consequence of you getting it wrong is your students facing $10,000 fines,” he says.

Poynter’s Al Tompkins, who organized the drone trainings at the universities of Georgia, Wisconsin and Oregon, as well as Syracuse, echoed this point. “Remember that a lot of students maybe are leisure users of drones,” he says. “It doesn’t make them experts. Think of it the same as social media. They may have developed unsafe habits that you have to break.”


He agrees with Waite that institutions will not take kindly to rogue drone use. “Your university would have, what we called in Kentucky, ‘a conniption fit’ if you did this without being licensed and insured.”


Tompkins cautions that educators may not fully recognize what he calls “a new harness of regulations” beyond what they’re used to with other tools. “You have First Amendment considerations, you have privacy considerations, you have safety considerations, you have other airspace considerations.”

Matt Waite of the University of Nebraska Drone Journalism Lab trains students in safe and responsible flight at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in June 2017. (Photo courtesy of Al Tompkins)

Bedrock Principles

Beyond the legal restrictions lay a series of ethical considerations that are essential in any classroom using drones. The Center for Journalism Ethics that I direct at the University of Wisconsin-Madison released a report this summer on public acceptance of drone use in news. We found a public modestly favorable toward these uses but clear in preferring them in certain types of reporting and not others. People are concerned about privacy, surveillance and paparazzi-type behavior.


The Center recommends transparency and accountability when using drones, including such things as always labeling drone footage and images and linking to means for the public to respond and ask questions. Tompkins says careful news media use, including by students, is critical in and of itself, but also as a means of preserving access to using drones as reporting tools.


“In some ways, we’re kind of in a pioneer mode right now,” he says. “If we do this well, we’re more likely to get the public’s trust and not get regulated out of existence. If we do this badly, we’ll have the opposite reaction.”


Ethical considerations apply whether you’re deploying the drone yourself or using material captured by someone else. If others violate FAA rules or ethical principles while gathering images or video, we ought not use it in our publications or broadcasts. “It’s like saying don’t steal but if you do steal, come over and sell it to me,” Tompkins says. “I want us to be careful not to encourage bad behavior by using it in our coverage.”


It’s also key to remember that drones should be incorporated within curriculum and not added on as some shiny new object in a dedicated course. Waite feels particularly strongly about this point.


“You shouldn’t teach a drone class any more than you shouldn’t teach a phone class,” he says. “The drone is a tool. A very useful tool, yes, but a tool nonetheless. So the trick is to incorporate drones into storytelling classes. Teach carpentry not hammer.”

Al Tompkins works with Madison broadcast journalist Steve Koehn during drone training at the University of Wisconsin in June 2017. (Photo courtesy of Becky Liscum)

Building a J-School Rep

One of the things I noticed as I have worked on research in drones is the healthy set of cross-campus connections I’ve been developing. Given that these tools can be useful in everything from monitoring crops to tracking whales — literally from agriculture to zoology — journalism schools can become campus leaders in demonstrating safe and responsible use, as well as influencing institutional policies.


“If mass communication departments become the brain trust of how to use these, other departments will come to you (and) get in on your expertise,” Tompkins says. “It’s a way to make your department relevant to everybody else.”


If you’d like to get in on this emerging trend, plenty of resources await you:

Kathleen Bartzen Culver (@kbculver) is the director of the Center for Journalism Ethics and was the founding education curator for MediaShift. This story is posted here in an agreement with MediaShift. The original post is found here.

Drone Journalism Training Coming to Ethics Center

The Center for Journalism Ethics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison is partnering with the Poynter Institute, Google News Lab, DJI Drones, the Drone Journalism Lab at the University of Nebraska, and National Press Photographers Association to host a hands-on drone journalism training in Madison June 16 to 18, 2017.

“At a time when drone use in reporting is expected to grow quickly, I’m delighted the Center for Journalism Ethics can help encourage responsible practice,” said Center Director Kathleen Bartzen Culver, who has been studying the legal and ethical implications of drones in journalism for five years. “These partners are leaders in this field, and I’m proud we’re working alongside them.”

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) — known to most as drones — present tremendous opportunities for journalists. They can be used to report on environmental issues, natural disasters, and other news issues and events. But they also pose important concerns, including safety and privacy. This hands-on training will not only prepare journalists to successful earn FAA certification to fly, but also focus on the law and ethics involved.

Training participants will learn:

  • Background of unmanned aerial systems
  • Part 107 of the Drone Pilot’s Certificate
  • Airspace restrictions for drone pilots
  • Operating limitations
  • Weather conditions
  • Drone performance
  • Crew management
  • Airports and airport operations
  • Aeronautical decision-making
  • Emergency procedures
  • Federal and state regulations
  • Pre-flight, flight and post-flight checklists
  • Flight and battery logging
  • Legal and privacy concerns
  • The ethics of a flying camera
  • Useful tools (Google MyMaps, Earth Pro)
  • Hands-on flying of a DJI drone

Thanks to Google’s generous sponsorship, the three-day training is offered for $295. Journalists, journalism educators and serious students preparing for drone flight are welcome to attend. Please visit for more information.


News Release from The Poynter Institute

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (Jan. 30, 2017) – The Poynter Institute, Google News Lab, Drone Journalism Lab, National Press Photographers Association and DJI have unveiled an innovative program to train journalists in using drones, or unmanned aerial systems, for their news coverage. The program, which features hands-on workshops and online teaching, is powered by the Google News Lab.

Hands-on workshops, offered from March to August at universities from coast to coast, will offer training on safe drone operations as well as information that drone pilots need to study for the Federal Aviation Administration’s new Part 107 Drone Pilot’s Certificate. In addition, the three-day workshops will focus on the legal and ethical issues of drone journalism, community best practices and coordinated operations in a breaking news environment, as well as explore ways drone photography can be used in innovative storytelling.

“As a certified drone pilot myself, I know how difficult the exam can be for people who have no other pilot training,” said Poynter’s Al Tompkins, who is organizing the workshops. “Our goal is not to make you ‘test-ready’ but to show you what will be on the exam and to give you the fundamental knowledge you will need to study for the test.”

“We’re dedicated to supporting journalists’ experimentation with new technology,” said Erica Anderson of Google News Lab. “Drones present an opportunity for journalists to tell stories in visually rich and immersive ways, but there are still many open questions on how to apply them safely, ethically and creatively for news reporting. We couldn’t be more pleased to partner with The Poynter Institute on the drone journalism program to help tackle these challenges.”

Poynter will be leading these workshops in partnership with the Drone Journalism Lab at the University of Nebraska, the National Press Photographers Association (NPPA), the Google News Lab and DJI. Additional online training will be available later this year via Poynter’s e-learning platform, News University.

“Drones are purpose-built context machines. They can, in less time and at vastly reduced costs, give a viewer an understanding of the scale and scope of a story unlike anything else journalists have in the toolbox,” said the Drone Journalism Lab’s Matt Waite, who has become a leading voice for drone journalism through his work at the University of Nebraska. “Just getting a drone straight up 100 feet in the air has the power to change our understanding of how big, how far, how wide, how massive something is. And it can be done safely and for very little cost.”

The workshops also will include NPPA’s legal counsel Mickey H. Osterreicher, who has worked for years speaking on behalf of journalists as the federal government drafted regulations for where and when drone journalists could fly.

“NPPA has been at the forefront in advocating for the use of drones for newsgathering. With that opportunity comes an inherent role of operating them in a legal, safe and responsible manner,” Osterreicher said.  The legal landscape is especially complex because state and local governments increasingly are imposing their own restrictions on drone flights.

The program also will feature hands-on introductory flight training sponsored by DJI, the global leader in drone technology and 2016 winner of NPPA’s Lemen award for technology innovation in photojournalism.  “We are thrilled to join with Poynter to empower journalists with state-of-the-art technology that inspires innovative storytelling,” said DJI policy lead Jon Resnick.

Four universities are serving as hosts and partners for these workshops: the University of Georgia Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, March 17-19; Syracuse University Newhouse School of Public Communications, April 21-23; University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Journalism and Mass Communication, June 16-18; and the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication in Portland, Aug. 18-20.

In addition, the Google News Lab will support a limited number of travel scholarships for members of the National Association of Black Journalists, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, the Asian American Journalists Association, Native American Journalists Association and NLGJA, the Association of LGBTQ journalists.

Participation at each hands-on workshop will be limited to the first 60 people to register. Workshop details are available at


About Google News Lab

Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful. Google created the News Lab to support the creation and distribution of the information that keeps people informed about what’s happening in the world today—quality journalism. Today’s news organizations and media entrepreneurs are inventing new ways to discover, create and distribute news content—and Google News Lab is here to provide tools, data and programs designed to help.



About the Drone Journalism Lab at the University of Nebraska

The College of Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln established the Drone Journalism Lab in November 2011 as part of a broad digital journalism and innovation strategy. Journalism is evolving rapidly, and journalism education must evolve with it, teaching new tools and storytelling strategies while remaining true to the core principles and ethics of journalism. The lab was started by Professor Matt Waite as a way to explore how drones could be used for reporting.


About the National Press Photographers Association

The National Press Photographers Association (NPPA) is the leading voice advocating for the work of visual journalists today. As the voice of visual journalists since 1946, NPPA has led the fight to promote and protect integrity and excellence in visual journalism. Its code of ethics stands for the highest integrity in visual storytelling. Its advocacy efforts put NPPA in the center of today’s thorniest issues in support of journalists throughout the country, while its educational initiatives seek to prepare visual journalists to meet the challenges of the profession. In light of these challenges, the work of NPPA has never been more vital than it is today.


About DJI

Founded in 2006, DJI is a global industry leader in high performance and easy-to-use aerial camera systems for recreational and commercial use. DJI products empower people of all skill levels to take to the skies and capture images that were once out of their reach. The company places heavy emphasis on R&D and innovation, and is committed to bringing aerial photography and videography to all. DJI currently has business operations in the United States, Europe, Japan, Hong Kong and mainland China.


About The Poynter Institute

The Poynter Institute for Media Studies is a global leader in journalism education and a strategy center that stands for uncompromising excellence in journalism, media and 21st century public discourse. Poynter faculty teach seminars and workshops at the Institute in St. Petersburg, Fla., and at conferences and organizational sites around the world. Its e-learning division, News University,, offers the world’s largest online journalism curriculum in 7 languages, with more than 400 interactive courses and 330,000 registered users in more than 200 countries. The Institute’s website,, produces 24-hour coverage of news about media, ethics, technology, the business of news and the trends that currently define and redefine journalism news reporting. The world’s top journalists and media innovators come to Poynter to learn and teach new generations of reporters, storytellers, media inventors, designers, visual journalists, documentarians and broadcast producers, and to build public awareness about journalism, media, the First Amendment and protected discourse that serves democracy and the public good.
Contact: Tina Dyakon
Director of Advertising and Marketing
The Poynter Institute

On Haiti and the ethics of disaster

Why you should stop encouraging news consumers to blindly donate to Haiti relief

Last week I messaged a source of mine in Haiti near Port-au-Prince to ask how he’s weathering the storm that hurricane Matthew has wrought upon his country. He replied that houses in his neighborhood had fallen “victim to floods.” The good news? “No one has died.”

That’s more than people living on Haiti’s southern peninsula can say. The death toll—now officially at 336, though likely far higher—is a big part of why the world is paying attention to Haiti right now. It’s in the headlines, it’s in the ledes. It’s the reason news agencies continuously hunt for the highest figures: The higher your death toll, the more fresh, the more ominous your reporting appears, and the more likely it is that TV news stations, newspapers and news websites will choose your story over your competitor’s. (This weekend The New York Times wrote about the challenges of calculating a death tolls).

We should care that hundreds of people have died. But we shouldn’t only care when a storm hits. More than 9,000 Haitians have died from cholera in the six years since the United Nations introduced the disease there. Diarrhoeal diseases kill at least 4,600 Haitians each year. Those diseases are usually brought on by lack of clean water and sanitation — things with relatively simple and low-cost fixes that neither Haiti’s government nor the international aid community has invested in sufficiently to fix.

In fact, giving money to disaster relief in Haiti is probably one of the worst ways to spend your money. In most cases, by the time a disaster strikes, it’s simply too late to do very much. Billions of dollars flowed into Haiti following its 2010 earthquake, but the number of people pulled alive from the rubble by international medical teams likely measured only in the hundreds. When an earthquake hit Turkey in 1998, 98 percent of the people pulled from the rubble were saved by neighbors, relatives, friends — not internationals.

When disaster strikes, the first 24 or 48 hours are the critical windows in which to save lives. But even then, there’s precious little that emergency donations can accomplish. A friend of mine who works for a major aid organization in Haiti messaged me last week that “it’s awful trying to get to the south with the bridge down, blocked roads, etc. So sad.” She’s talking about a bridge on the same road I traveled back in 2010 to cover hurricane Thomas as it struck Haiti’s south. Indeed, bridges in Haiti fall frequently when storms hit. Without them, aid workers can’t get to the affected areas easily, or at all.

But how many of us have opened our wallets in the past five years to donate to the construction of bridges in Haiti — or roads?

More to the point, how many news outlets that are gaining clicks and ad revenue by reporting on the current death toll in Haiti bothered to report on any solutions to Haiti’s chronic infrastructure or health problems in the past? Absent any solutions-oriented coverage, the recent barrage of news about the tragic toll of Hurricane Matthew feels an awful lot like disaster porn.

In this December 2014 photo, a man navigates his boat toward an island off Haiti's Southern peninsula -- the area area hardest hit by Hurricane Matthew this month. (Photo by Jacob Kushner and used here with permission)

In this December 2014 photo, a man navigates his boat toward an island off Haiti’s Southern peninsula — the area area hardest hit by Hurricane Matthew this month. (Photo by Jacob Kushner and used here with permission)

A better way

When disasters strike, news media tend to act as conduits for our money, writing on the assumption that news consumers can alleviate the crises through their pocketbooks. Our headlines, our leads, urge our audiences to focus not on the underlying causes of Haiti’s suffering, but on fleeting relief efforts:

“Aid Agencies Rush to Help Hurricane Matthew Victims in Haiti,” says Voice of America.

“Haiti Relief Efforts Step Up as Higher Death Toll Feared,” says the Wall Street Journal.

Corporations like Facebook, Apple, Amazon and T-Mobile make the Red Cross their default charity whenever disaster strikes, irrespective of that agency’s mixed record of helping Haiti in the past. Often, reporters naively follow their lead.

Having spent two years living and reporting in post-earthquake Haiti, following the money and reporting on failures in international aid, there are few charities that I feel comfortable recommending people donate to. I was saddened last week to see that even some of those were using this disaster as a means to fundraise.

There’s no denying that we tend to be more moved by emotional appeals and breaking news than by logic or reason. Perhaps there’s an argument to be made that now is the right time for media to spread the message. But that’s only true if we direct people to charities that do long-term capacity building work and have evidence that they do it well, rather than just the ones with the big names and the sad pictures.

I was encouraged to see that in its emails this week, the American Jewish World Service avoided the implication that donating money would immediately save lives from the storm. Instead, AJWS explained its long-term road map toward helping local Haitian organizations and institutions build the capacity to prevent such catastrophes in the future. AJWS wrote in an email that while “Most of the first-responder organizations will focus on food, shelter and clean water,” it would be focusing its efforts on “Rebuilding of infrastructure for partners who have reported damage” and preventing water-borne diseases from spreading in the coming days in communities that were the hardest hit.

“In an environment in which international aid is controversial, and is seen to only weaken Haiti’s efforts to establish autonomy and accountability, AJWS seeks to advocate for all aid organizations to work directly with Haitian national and local organizations – to give flexible support and to promote sustainable rebuilding and prevention work,” wrote the charity.

If an international charity can describe the complexity of Haiti’s situation — the long-term challenges and the long-term solutions — in a simple email, why can’t news outlets do it in their stories?

What you can do

On Friday a journalist friend of mine based in Kenya who has never been to Haiti was thinking about going there to cover the storm’s aftermath. There has to be a better way than chasing the storm.

The Solutions Journalism Network has an excellent toolkit for reporting news in a productive way — not by sending readers fumbling blindly for their wallets, but by identifying an initiative that took a deep look at a chronic problem, devised an evidence-based solution to it, and managed to put it into action.

Yesterday, another journalist colleague of mine who has spent years writing about foreign aid came up with some basic guidelines to follow for giving to Haiti, most of which come down to the simple but essential rule of give cash, not stuff, and don’t fly down yourself.


screen-shot-2016-10-09-at-12-24-38-pmBut for journalists I would add another suggestion to the list: don’t encourage your audiences to give to relief in the first place. Direct them to science-based charity navigators like GiveWell, which analyzes the research behind different charities to identify where your money is most likely to do the most good. Your readers will soon learn that disaster relief is one of the most inefficient ways to save a life, but that there are other ways in which even a little bit of philanthropy can go a long way.

Help your readers become effective altruists. An effective altruist would argue, correctly, that things like Hurricane Matthew ravishing Haiti are not truly “natural” disasters, but man-made ones. Florida has twice the population of Haiti, and yet the death toll there isn’t approaching 1,000 — it’s only 6. That’s the result of our investment in modern infrastructure and health systems, in taxpayer dollars being spent on welfare and other programs that help people meet their own needs.

We can prevent such travesties in Haiti too: Rather than encourage news consumers to throw enormous amounts of money to post-disaster rescue teams that are rarely able to save many lives once the storm has hit, let’s give them the tools to direct their philanthropy wisely toward preventing the next one.

Jacob Kushner, UW Journalism ’10, spent two years investigating foreign aid in Haiti.

Ethics and Elections Event December 8

Please join the Center for Journalism Ethics December 8 for a panel — “Journalism Ethics & Election 2016” — at 6:30 p.m. at the Overture Center in Madison. We will explore the role of political journalism in the federal elections, particularly the presidential race, covering questions of truth, trust and verification.



Molly Ball, The Atlantic

Molly Ball is a staff writer for The Atlantic, where she is a leading voice in the magazine’s coverage of U.S. politics. She has been awarded the Toner Prize for Excellence in Political Reporting, the Sandy Hume Memorial Award for Excellence in Political Journalism, and the Lee Walczak Award for Political Analysis for her coverage of political campaigns and issues. She appears regularly as an analyst on NBC’s Meet the Press, CBS’s Face the Nation, PBS’s Washington Week, CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, and NPR.

Ball previously reported for Politico, the Las Vegas Review-Journal, and the Las Vegas Sun. She has worked for newspapers in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Cambodia, as well as the New York Times and the Washington Post. She is a graduate of Yale University and was a 2009 recipient of the Knight-Wallace journalism fellowship at the University of Michigan. In 2007, she won $100,000 on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. Ball grew up in Idaho and Colorado. She lives in Virginia with her husband and three children.

Craig GilbertGILBERT, NWS, PORTER, 1. - Journal Sentinel Washington D.C. correspondant Craig Gilbert. October 9, 2013. GARY PORTER/GPORTER@JOURNALSENTINEL.COM, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Craig Gilbert is the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Washington Bureau Chief and author of “The Wisconsin Voter” political blog. Gilbert has covered national and state politics for the paper since 1990, has covered every presidential race since 1992, and has written extensively about the electoral battle for the swing states of the Midwest. He was a 2009-10 Knight-Wallace fellow at the University of Michigan, where he studied public opinion, survey research, voting behavior and statistics, and was a Lubar Fellow at Marquette University Law School, researching an in-depth study of one of the nation’s most polarized places, metropolitan Milwaukee. He previously worked for the Miami Herald, the Kingston (NY) Daily Freeman and was a speechwriter for New York Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan. Gilbert has a B.A. in History from Yale University.    



Photo courtesy of Coburn Dukehart, Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism.

Michael Wagner, School of Journalism and Mass Communication, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Mike Wagner is associate professor and Louis A. Maier Faculty Development Fellow in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He directs the Physiology and Communication Effects Lab. He is affiliated with the Department of Political Science and the La Follette School of Public Affairs. He’s published more than 40 books, journal articles and book chapters in the areas of political communication, journalism, public opinion, and biology and politics, including the book, Political Behavior of the American Electorate. A former radio/television news reporter and anchor, Wagner is an award-winning teacher and adviser. He is the current Forum Editor for the journal Political Communication and a regular guest host on the local radio program, “A Public Affair.”


Photo courtesy of Al Tompkins

Moderator: Kathleen Bartzen Culver, director of the Center for Journalism Ethics.

Kathleen Bartzen Culver is an assistant professor in the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Journalism & Mass Communication and director of the Center for Journalism Ethics. Long interested in the implications of digital media on journalism and public interest communication, Culver focuses on the ethical dimensions of social tools, technological advances and networked information. She combines these interests with a background in law and free expression. She also serves as visiting faculty for the Poynter Institute  and education curator for MediaShift.