Archives About Staff BagNews is dedicated to visual politics, media literacy and the analysis of news images.
February 5, 2013

A Drone is a Drone is a Drone?

TIME drone cover

Of course, the issue of unmanned aerial assault and surveillance technology demands serious practical as well as moral consideration. That said, I have to wonder if this cover, designed for maximum effect, is actually going too far for freezing one of the Pentagon’s targeted killing machines over one of America’s fine planned communities. Of course, the scene is pure hyperbole and the editors would expect you and I to know that. But, just like the cashier at my market now believes torture was the key to finding bin Ladin, do we really want Americans who are less in the know thinking these military-grade monsters (Hello, Hellfire missiles!) are coming to your backyard?

Gregg Segal for TIME domestic drones

Certainly, TIME could have put one of the images from their accompanying photo feature on the cover, this one featuring a more modest NOAA craft.  If they had, we’d at least see a more realistic answer to the question of what happens when these more accurately named “unmanned aerial vehicles” are unleashed at home. Not only that, it would spare a lot of civilians the anxiety of encountering that cover all week at that self same check out aisle — not to mention, the free product placement for General Dynamics.

If one were looking for a visual twist on what’s on the horizon for these industrial strength models, however, perhaps TIME’s world edition thumbnails makes for a better (and more ominous) geo-political prognostication.

Screen Shot 2013 02 05 at 11 23 09 PM

(photo-illustration: Dan Winters. photo 2: Gregg Segal for TIME caption: Todd Jacobs of NOAA uses a Puma drone with a 9-foot wingspan to survey the population of seals and sea lions in California’s Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary.)

  • black_dog_barking

    Striking image, bold monotones with whatever small pool of color in the shot bleeding into the night at the bottom. This is the other end of our “Morning in America” from the 1980’s.

    Also a typographic tour de force, a melange of type faces and weights that somehow works. This much variety is supposed to look cluttered but hangs together nicely to my eye.

    That said, I have no idea what kind of editorial, social, or political statement this composition makes about life in America, 2013. If it is true to other recent work from the same source there is likely not much really going on. Nice visual, very nice.

  • bks3bks

    The ultimate smart weapon depends on a human sitting in a control room and a President willing to smile as he kills.


  • Scarabus

    I don’t see this as idle speculation.

    Drones are already flying over America. Smaller drones are keeping Americans under surveillance (in addition to carrying cameras at major sporting events). The same kind flying over Pakistan are flying over the U.S./Mexico border. The Border Patrol has announced plans to increase their use.

    The white paper just released shows that the President now claims the authority to kill — without trial — persons he believes to be associated with Al Qaeda or a related group, and to be an imminent threat. That includes American citizens, and it is not “constrained by geography.”

    I hope this gets a lot of attention at Brennan’s Senate hearing. Just because you’re paranoid, that doesn’t mean they aren’t out to get you.

  • bks3bks

    A friend just dropped me a note to say that he was against drones not only because they kill people, but because they cause concussions, the nation’s leading problem.


Refresh Archives

Random Notes