BlueDevil Press

100_0193On March 7-9 2013, our team had a mission to further spread the ideals and messages of FIRST throughout the Northern Lights and Lake Superior Regionals using media. We recruited members from another robotics team, Blue Twilight, Team 2220 of Eagan, Minnesota, in order to fully cover both events. Together we formed the BlueDevil Press; a team of novice reporters, photographers, and writers, to document the regionals while at the same time receiving journalism training from the staff of the Duluth News Tribune. The collective articles that we had written were published in the local Duluth News Tribune for the Twin Ports area which reaches 90,000+ readers. In 2016, the Daredevils brought in FRC Team 5690 SubZero Robotics, of Esko, Minnesota, to cover both Duluth competitions. The BlueDevil Press has been discontinued as of 2017, but the team is now independently working on a related project . . .

 

The below images are the student articles that appeared in the Duluth News Tribune…

smallerwrap final front 1 wrap final back 1 robotics friday 1 robotics thursday1

Back in March 7-9, of 2013, the Duluth East Daredevils decided to further spread the ideals and messages of FIRST by writing articles every day during both the Northern Lights and Lake Superior Regionals. Unable to monitor such large competitions with almost 100 teams, so the Daredevils recruited members from another robotics team in order to fully cover both events. That team was Team 2220, Blue Twilight, from Eagan, MN. Thus, the combined team members decided to call the project “BlueDevil Press”. Together they created a team of novice reporters, photographers, and writers, in order to document the regionals while at the same time receiving journalism training from the staff of the Duluth News Tribune. The collective articles that they had written were printed in the local Duluth News Tribune for the Twin Ports area which reaches 90,000+ readers.

Six weeks before the regionals, they had the idea to publish a robotics segment in the local paper in collaboration with the editor. This section became a double-sided sheet of newsprint paper, or wrap, that came around the newspaper itself. In addition to the wrap, they were offered more article space in the paper on Friday and Saturday. Six weeks of preparation for the feature consisted of brainstorming sessions, Skyping from both sides, fundraising for the wrap, and chasing down robotics stories from around the U.S.

The Duluth News Tribune was a huge help in this endeavor, showing everyone the ropes in the newspaper world. Without the support of the Tribune, these articles would literally not have been possible. Pre-publication they met with the current head editor of the News Tribune at the time, to discuss the finer points of reporting in an unbiased fashion; as well as learning how to interview, and plan out the paper’s format. The Daredevils and Blue Twilight used (and still do) Google Drive to store articles and make joint editing easier. Articles were screened both through Drive by other teams and with the editor himself.

During the regionals, both teams interviewed people in order to formulate stories for the next day’s articles through live reporting. The current day’s paper, featuring BlueDevil Press articles, was handed out for free, to all of the teams in the pits as well as event goers.

This project and experience is completely replicable everywhere, and has the ability to further propel the mission of FIRST worldwide. Teams don’t have to have a paper to start either; they can start small, by utilizing city or state blogs, or producing digitized newspaper articles. These types of projects not only allow community members get to read more about FIRST, but the students involved get a taste of publication work in the real world. With some thought, effort, and a lot of energy, any team could replicate this endeavor.

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