Drones and virtual reality and the future of journalism

I recently attended two events and saw drones and virtual reality in action.

At the Society of Professional Journalists Region 4/5 meeting in Cincinnati, we had workshops on both.

First to the drones. The presenter said that he believes the FAA will deregulate soon and open up drone usage for commercial uses. Right now, it takes a pilot’s license to operate a drone for commercial uses. That’s really held back the journalistic uses. Recreational use only requires you to own one. Soon, probably with some small amount of training required, commercial use will become more like recreational use. This will open it up to journalistic uses. Journalists in other countries already use drones because they don’t have restrictions like the FAA has put on us in the U.S.

The next level of drone technology was written about on fastcompany.com a couple days. The Hover Camera is designed for indoor use and has all kinds of possibilities for journalism and education.

I can see journalism students using drones for class and for Cedars to help produce stories that will truly benefit from drone footage. If you are familiar with Cedarville, imagine the cardboard canoe race, getting started weekend, involvement fair and many other outdoor activities. And what about a story showing off the new chapel in the fall from a variety of views. Drones are more than a gimmick. They can really help tell stories.

Virtual reality with 360-degree viewing experiences are coming fast. The workshop presenters at SPJ said within five years we will all have a VR device. Right now Samsung is pushing it with its Gear device as a $100 add-on. I got to try one there and then again at the Evangelical Press Association convention in early April. I watched a video made my a mission organization that told a story of a third-world village. You felt like you were sitting there watching all that was happening.

An editor from the Cincinnati Enquirer showed us some 360 virtual reality they have done, including this video from a pops rehearsal. It’s on YouTube which allows you to use the mouse to move around and see what the conductor sees. With a VR viewer it would be 3D and much cooler to watch. We always want to put people there with our words and pictures. Now we can virtually do it.

Of course these technologies aren’t cheap, but they are becoming more affordable. Hopefully we can get these technologies into our curriculum soon.

The Easter message can be told and shared in so many ways

File_000 (33)

Easter  has come and gone this year, but Christians should contemplate — at least for a minute — every day what Easter represents. I don’t solely mean the scriptural account and the theological truths that emanate from that account and down through the epistles. A correct biblical understanding is, of course, important.

What I need more of in my life — and I suspect we all do — is to see life-changing events that reveal the power of the cross and the resurrection. And Christians need to share the biblical understanding of it and the stories that show that power in people’s lives. I have been seeing lots of this lately.

On Sunday, I saw a link on Twitter about the true message of Easter. So I clicked the link and was pleasantly surprised to see an opinion column in the Orange County Register newspaper accompanied by a clever cartoon that spoke tremendous truth in such a simple way. I admire Mark Landsbaum for having the courage to publish such a piece. And I admire the newspaper for having the courage to allow one of their own to have the freedom to write what was on his mind and heart.

Click the link in the tweet below and read.

My recent trip to the bush of Kenya showed me and my friends the power that Christ’s resurrection can have in any life. Christians have an appreciation for that power, but to sit on dusty benches in a half-bulit church on the other side of the world and see a broken man make Jesus the Lord of his life is distinctly profound. All of us who were there see Jesus just a little differently. At least I do. He increased my faith and my trust in Him that day. As my good friend Brian Hanson says in the video below, these are things you only read about.


Brian Hanson Kenya Story (2016-03-20) from Grace Baptist Ch, Cedarville OH on Vimeo.

I was grateful to hear Brian’s story because he added details that I left out of my blog account, which you can read at the link below.

My prayer is that this experience will continue an upward trajectory of abiding in Christ more deeply, and that I will meditate on what it means for him to be the vine and for me to be a branch. Heard a great message on that in chapel Wednesday.

Telling these true redemption stories is needed. People connect to stories. That’s why Jesus told so many of them. There are great storytellers in the world, but more need to be told. Encouraging my students to do so is a developing passion I have. I am also developing a passion for wanting to do the same. I pray that I can return to Kenya sooner than I can imagine right now. There are stories in the bush that need to be shared like the one I am sharing here. And this story isn’t over. My prayer is that I will be able to tell the next chapter in this story and others like it to a wider audience if that’s in God’s plan for my life. If not, I pray someone else does.

And a belated Happy Easter.

Establishing connections in Kenya

Jet lag lingers this week, but I remain excited over the spring-break trip I just took to Kenya with two friends from Grace Baptist Church in Cedarville.

Dustin Hughes, an attorney in Springfield, has been going on ministry trips to Kenya for many years and has built strong relationships with churches and a law school in Eldoret. Brian Hanson, who serves as a chaplain to the Columbus Blue Jackets, the Central State football team, the Ohio statehouse and more, joined us on the trip and was able to share the gospel in some places most people don’t know exist. We had fantastic fellowship together and with many of the Kenyans we were there to serve and to work alongside.

One of my goals is to establish relationships abroad with journalism and communication programs. In Nairobi, I visited Daystar University, a Christian school, and Multimdedia University, a state-run school. I had great exploratory meetings with both schools, and both schools invited me lecture in a class. I greatly enjoyed those opportunities. I have much to discuss with my department colleagues and see where these conversations and ideas might lead. My hope is to develop study abroad opportunities for Cedarville students. And if African students can spend a semester here, that would be great too.

I also blogged during our trip. We called the site Ujumbe Kenya. Ujumbe can translate to mission in Swahili. If you’d like to read about our trip and the mighty things God did on our trip into the bush, click here.