Sunday, May 13, 2012

Boycott the Democrat and Chronicle

Recently a local FIRST Lego League team received international attention for their achievements - getting the international gracious professionalism award at the World Championships for FIRST in St. Louis.  This team - with mentors from team 340 (GRR) and sponsored to go to World Championships by Team 1511 (Penfield Robotics) received recognition in WIRED magazine for their achievement.

So you'd think - wow - international attention, international media - local middle school kids, this is what proves Rochester is an innovative, forward-thinking city.  This kind of news is something that everyone in Rochester can be proud of.  Not to mention that outside of the Michigan area we have one of the largest FIRST populations for a city our size.  And that our teams consistently win Robot awards, Engineering Inspiration and Chairman's awards outside the area, and multiple regional teams repeatedly qualify for world competitions at both the FLL and FRC levels.  Sounds worthy of some serious features in the local news right?  Perhaps a feature article on the team, and on the other teams that supported and nurtured them. Or maybe one on how the FIRST Robotics competition inspires thousands of local elementary, middle and high school students to new achievements in STEM? 

But the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, our local newspaper, continues to ignore FIRST Robotics, and other equally deserving events such as Odyssey of the Mind, ImagineRIT and Science Olympiad. They claim that such events aren't "interesting to their readers" and don't "Follow their demographics".  (Actual quotes from D&C mouthpieces).  Never mind that local television stations enthusiastically promote and feature FIRST Robotics, and they have the same demographics.  They claim they support FIRST but only do so with advertisements, not with any coverage to speak of.  Even the results of the local Regional competition weren't published in their paper (however results of chess clubs, soccer, baseball, football, and basketball are covered ad nauseum).  It's not a matter of them not knowing either - all the local teams do press releases and FIRST itself features PR to them regularly - but they continue to ignore it.

When I personally called attention to this continued ignorance - they banned my Facebook profile from commenting on articles - without an explanation. I didn't violate their terms of service (I specifically avoided situations that would get me banned) but they terminated my access to making comments on the site anyway - because when it came down to it - they had no valid explanation for why they continued to ignore FIRST Robotics.  In a similar fashion they refused to cover the RIT Innovation Festival ImagineRIT.

Recently the D&C is promoting a price raise to "allow them" to offer a digital subscription.  If you are an intellectual and thoughtful Rochester resident I strongly recommend that instead of renewing at their higher rate - you cancel your subscription.  And in doing so explain that you cannot in good conscience give them MORE money for LESS coverage of important events like FIRST Robotics in the city.  Subscribe to the NY Times for important news outside Rochester, and the Rochester Business Journal or City Magazine for important inside Rochester news.

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