Journalism from Space- A Satellite Image is worth a Thousand Words

Satellites with different spatial and temporal resolutions deliver images important for time series analysis. Now, the journalists can cover stories with the help of the big picture provided by a satellite.

Journalism from Space- A Satellite Image is worth a Thousand Words
Journalism from Space

Journalism from Space- A Satellite Image is Worth a Thousand Words

Weather Forecast or damages from a flood, a satellite image explains everything that is happening on the ground. Satellites with different spatial and temporal resolutions deliver images important for time series analysis. Now, the journalists can cover stories with the help of the big picture provided by a satellite. Eye from the sky is now a reliable source of news that enhances visual reporting free of charge most of the time. 

Space journalism with excellent newsgathering and storytelling tools helps media in examining case studies in lesser time. For example, these images revealed many activities along the Galwan river valley. The analysis of satellite pictures showed everything that was happening in the disputed area.

(Satellite images from Maxar for stone wall in the disputed area of Galwan Valley)

This advanced addition in the newsrooms helps thousands of journalists worldwide get facts from unreachable sites. Satellite journalism has provided us with several breaking news like how Iran Advanced in Missile technology. Imagery from Planet Labs showed the location of an Iranian facility where missile testing could have taken place.

Image of an Iranian facility 25 miles from Shahrud from Planet Labs where missiles testing could have taken place. (David Schmerler)

Apart from wars and disputes, satellite journalism also covers stories like the extent of flooding, blasts, relief, and rehabilitation camps. “Life in the camps” has a series of satellite images of the Rohingya Crisis. Shelters made of plastic sheeting and camp expansion areas give an idea about the lifestyle and suffering of the refugees. 

(Satellite imagery showing Kan Kya razed structures)

Media can get free and sophisticated images from various sources like Sentinel Hub, Copernicus, Earth Explorer, Bhuvan from ISRO, NASA Earth data, and Google Earth. They have a wide array of satellite images, and most of them provide advanced visualization tools. Journalists can also take help from experts to avoid any misinterpretation or false reporting. The planet, DigitalGlobe, EOS, and Esri are some companies that provide satellite images for media. 

A few days back, satellite images helped in the aftermath of Beirut blast. NASA images show the damages caused after the blast and its impact on the surroundings. Another example is how satellite imagery helped in tracking data of Africa to save elephants from ivory traders. Satellite imagery is a modern tool in storytelling that is easily accessible round the clock.

Beirut Blast Map prepared with the help of satellite-derived data from NASA-JPL team

(Satellite tracking helping fight against animal poaching)

Satellite imagery is complete news in itself after combining with data and good storytelling. Often reporters have many restrictions like borders, cost, and accessibility. Satellite imageries allow the journalists to cover a story without being physically present on the location.

The fresher data with high resolution has reported many events that would have gone unnoticed without a bird’s eye view. The unofficial camps in Bangladesh from Life in Camps won a Malofiej 26 data visualization award for human rights reporting. The images of Kutupalong and Balukhali extension sites were shown with satellite images from Planet Labs. Planet Labs also provided images for illegal oil trading at Singapore port.

Satellite image from Planets Lab showing illegal oil trading at Singapore port

With advancements in sensor technology, integration of AI and ML, and improved communication, Satellite Journalism is reporting each kind of news. Every news is breaking for the people involved in it. A big picture of ongoing events provides better transparency and reliability.