Questions for "Meet the Journalist: Tomas van Houtryve"
- Before watching the video: What do you know about the United States' drone program?
- After watching the video: What did you learn? If you didn't know much about the drone program, why do you think that is? What can you do as a U.S. citizen about the kind of information you receive from the government and the media?
- Try to put yourself in the shoes of 13-year-old Zubair Rehman, the boy who told U.S. lawmakers, "I no longer love blue skies. In fact, I now prefer gray skies. The drones do not fly when the skies are gray.” Discuss.
- Think about other ways in which official government records could be used to create art and/or journalism, as van Houtryve has done with this work. Try out, or plan out, a project of your own.
"In October 2012, a drone strike in northeast Pakistan killed a 67-year-old woman picking okra outside her house. At a briefing held in 2013 in Washington, the woman's 13-year-old grandson, Zubair Rehman, spoke to a group of five lawmakers. 'I no longer love blue skies,' said Rehman, who was injured by shrapnel in the attack. 'In fact, I now prefer gray skies. The drones do not fly when the skies are gray.'
"Over the past decade, drones have become the weapon of the United States military and the CIA for strikes overseas. Their use for surveillance and commercial purposes is also rapidly expanding both at home and abroad."
-Tomas van Houtryve's project page for "Blue Sky Days," Pulitzer Center website
For this project, van Houtryve attached his camera to a commercial drone and flew it over parts of the United States, photographing the country from a drone's-eye view.
In this lesson, students will watch Tomas van Houtryve's "Meet the Journalist" video and discuss his project "Blue Sky Days."
Note: There is some disturbing imagery in Tomas's "Meet the Journalist" video and it should be previewed by teachers ahead of time.