Eocafe: EO is in the News!

EO is in the News!

Promoting Global News

This week‘s EOcafe will take us into the world of media and communications!

In the early days of satellite Earth Observation, it seemed that the main use of the images coming from Landsat and SPOT was to show the readers of main-stream media (MSM) views of the world never seen before. The images were highly educative and certainly led to a much greater awareness of places and local news amongst the wider population. They also provided strategic information to the decision-makers but not to the degree possible today with high-resolution images.

At that time, the free and open data policy was still several years off and the main barrier to the use of the images by the MSM was the cost.

Now things have changed, and the cost is no longer an issue. Public satellites are offering imagery for free whilst commercial systems are being used to promote their capabilities. Each of the main (optical) satellite operators has a media office that works closely with news outlets to on the one hand support the storytelling and on the other to promote their capabilities – as well as developing a philanthropic image. Hence the mix of promotional commercial imagery and free public data coming from ESA, NASA, ISRO and other agencies, supported in some cases by extensive analytic capacity is keeping news sources satisfied.

Another significant change has been the move away from MSM towards on-line news and stories. Both for traditional newspapers and their suppliers, the digital version has become the reference even if a paper version is still published. Added to this we have new on-line media channels like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram etc which collectively are social media. The immediacy of news reporting today is fuelling demand for instant reactivity from image providers.

Now the images can be used both as an illustration and scene setter with the image attached to the story, or can be used in the form of investigative journalism as in the story related by Geospatial World, “Satellite Imagery for Journalism: A picture is worth a thousand words”. This tells how a video showing an execution in Africa was proven to be in a certain location despite denials by the government concerned. Careful analysis of images was used to identify features showing in the video and finally to geo-locate them. Other stories have appeared recently concerning hospital occupations, oil stock levels, farm production with many relating to the Covid epidemic.

Two experts will join this EOcafe to discuss how satellite imagery is used today in both these channels. Jonathon Tirone from the news agency Bloomberg and Remco Timmermans well known to many for his presence on Twitter and other social media channels will provide their insights into the use of EO in the media and what the benefits are, all explained through examples.

In the EOcafe, we will l take a look at these different ideas and discuss how far the boundary between EO and media. More specific:

  • In what ways can EO data be used by the media?
  • How much is about images and how far can investigative journalism go?
  • Are media channels employing EO specialists and if not, are they likely to?
  • Is there sufficient support coming from the EO service providers?
  • Where are the real benefits in exposing media to EO images?
  • Are more sophisticated tools needed, eg AI?

Our host Geoff SAWYER, EARSC’s Strategic Advisor and former Secretary General will exchange with two special guests:

  • Jonathon TIRONE, Writer and Editor, Bloomberg
  • Remco TIMMERMANS, Social Media Specialist for Space

Registration: This webinar is open to ALL but priority will be given to EARSC members. Registration is free but compulsory.

Registration: This webinar is open to ALL but priority will be given to EARSC members. Registration is free but compulsory.

EOcafe Registration

Please note this is a virtual event!

EOcafe is part of a series of EARSC meetings that offer timely, relevant, and practical information on a broad variety of topics related to the EO sector. Join us every two weeks to discuss and network while enjoying a cup of coffee with friends.

SAVE THE DATE for the next EOcafe:


  • By registering for this event, you accept the terms and conditions. More information here.
  • The use of a video camera is not mandatory but encouraged to facilitate better interaction among the attendees and the guest speaker(s).
  • The EOcafe will stay open after 17:00 in case our guests want to continue the discussion.

If you have any questions, and/or you want to know more about the EOcafe, and/or you want to share an idea about a future EOcafe, please contact Natassa (Natassa.antoniou@earsc.org)

Author: EARSC

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