Media at Nationals

I know media attention is great, because it’s always good to let other people know about FIRST, but did anyone else think that the media was being somewhat, I don’t know, INTRUSIVE to Nationals this year?

Was anyone else a bit peeved when this camera lady (apperently Dean’s stalker) poked her head out through the curtain over Dean’s shoulder during closing ceremonies ON CAMERA???
I admit it was amusing, but wasn’t it also in bad taste and distracting to the audience?

Were all of the cameras that were allowed on the field interfering with driving the robot/human player scoring? Because it was distracting for some referees (me, for example) who kept bumping into the camera crew while watching the matches. In fact, a few times robots missed cameramen by inches because they weren’t paying attention. I could even understand one person taking pictures, but isn’t the entire camera crew a bit excessive?

Yes I know that some teams were having documentaries done about their team, but there has to be a less “In-Your-Face” way of broadcasting that they can use.

My point is: shouldn’t there be a better way for the media to cover FIRST events? Do they REALLY need to be down on the field for matches? Does anyone else think that there should be SOME restrictions on where the press can go and when they can be there?

I’d like to hear other people’s thoughts on this. I know it’s not a big problem, but I was just wondering.

This would be REALLY expensive, but would solve it:

Have robotic cameras all around the fields. The cameras would be controlled by FIRST, for FIRST. No camera crews within 50 feet of the field. If they want better shots, then they buy the footage off of FIRST’s robotic cameras. And the robotic cameras don’t have to bee that big, maybe the size of a coffee mug or something.

(And I agree completely with your post :slight_smile: )

I agree, there are TONS of space behind the field, yet they wanted to do all the interviews right infront of the field, right infront of the audience. As I said before in another thread, it seemed more like Dean wasn’t as into it as he was when I was at Disney. He seemed overwhelmed by the media.

Oh well, that’s a small trade-off for growth that we all will have to deal with.

A possible solution to the interview problem is to set up an interview area outside of the arena for media to use. There were plenty of room at the dome and surrounding buildings for something like this. This would get the interviews away from the field, but it might not satisfy some media crews who want their interviews to be right where the action is.

I was doing announcining on Curie field and had some problems with camera people. It got to the point that I told them to stay off of the grey carpet and I just walked in front of them. If they did come on the carpet and I bumped into them that was their problem. I seemed to have more meetings with the FIRST camera men than the outsiders. We also had a camera on a boom over the field that was out of the way but able to get shots. I am not sure what it was for because in was never on the video screen.

I know as an announcer I am suppose to sit at the table but After being prodded to try I walked the sidelines. With all that was happening with field reset, camera people, referees and visitors between the scoring table and the field it was much easier to announce while walking and less people got hit by flying objects hurled from my position. Cameras and media will always take liberties that is how they get such good shots. If they prevent you from doing your job then the issue needs to be addressed.

On Newton the Tech TV guy came and did a segment, which pushed timing back a little, but he did hype up the crowd. That’s the only positive I’ve seen from all this media spotlighting, other than showing more people what FIRST is about. Yes, it’s frustrating to see all these cameras in your face, but just think what FIRST can become with all the national coverage.

FIRST is expanding, and Dean always wanted more people to know about FIRST, that’s why most teams do things like community outreach. And this is just community outreach on a larger level. It’ll prove to be positive, and you’ll get used to it in time.

Our drive team was being interviewed by CNN (if i remember right) and the pit team had no idea where they were. We were freaking out because it was after we tipped over and we wanted to check out the robot and make sure it was all right. When they got back they held up a destroyed tether. We asked them how it happened and they said they were demoing the robot for the interviewer and when they went to take out the cord from the control box, they ripped it out wrong and broke the tether. Needless to say, the drive team was forbidden from touching the new tether…

Yes, the media have become too invasive at the competitions. I believe that we reach that point when the presence of the media affects the play and outcome of the matches. And we are already there.

In at least one match at the Championships, the boom camera actually struck a robot, and knocked the 2X ball out of the robot’s grasp. The alliance eventually lost that match. They could have made a reasonable argument regarding external interference, but chose not to do so.

The current practice of “free-range media” has an effect on the game in other ways as well. Because FIRST doesn’t restrict their movements, the media members congregate at the front and sides of the field, where they can get the best views (and camera images) of the game play. But (as noted above) by being there, they consistently block the view of the field by the scoring table, the officials, and the audience. This has a direct impact on the ability of the officials to do their jobs, and the ability of the audience to observe the game.

Plus (and this is my real peeve), allowing cameras at the front of the field enables the media to get great close-up shots of the game - but almost every one of these images is horrible for FIRST. Right now, the media show wonderful images to the rest of the country of games in front of black curtains or backgrounds of empty seats. This sends the message to the audience that this really ISN’T a spectator sport, and it never will be. This is exactly what FIRST does not need. Consider the following:

To me, this photo, taken from the front side of the field, says “hey, nice game going on in the middle of the field, but it can’t be all that important. Look at all the empty space behind the field, and the few people just lined up against the black curtain looking around. And behind the black curtain there is just a lot of empty space with nothing interesting. Yeah, the people playing the game are excited, but there is hardly anyone else to care.”

Conversely, this photo, taken from the back side of the field, says to me “hey nice game going on the in the middle of the field. A lot of people in the audience, watching the game. And they are paying a lot of attention to whatever is going on - so this must be important!”

The solution to all three of these problems is simple: restrict media to the area between the back of the field and the black curtain, in the zone where teams stage for upcoming matches. This gets them out of the way of the officials and the audience, but still allows the media to have an excellent view of the game. It keeps them far enough back from the field that interference is unlikely (or at least less likely). It allows them to conduct quick spot-interviews with teams about to take the field (making for great “before-and-after” stories). And it allows (even forces) them to get shots of the game with a real, excited audience in the background! This is the type of image that FIRST wants to get out to the rest of the country, and the type of image that is necessary for the “unwashed masses” to become interested in what we are doing.


So the real question is how to we control the media is such a way that they do not interfere with the game/competition, but also get the images that they want and need? Of course, the follow-on question revolves around whether the image that the “want and need” is actually the best image for telling the whole story.

One solution I will propose is that a Media Guide is provided to each and every media crew that covers the event. These Guides will have an understanding of FIRST, the game, etc., and will be able to answer most questions that the media may have. These Guides will also know the areas where media crews will be allowed (certain areas around the field).

But the great thing about these Guides is that they will know what to look out for, whether it is a spectacular move, a dramatic event, etc. and can help point these things out to their media charges.

These Guides will have to work with their media guests to assure that they get the the shots that they need for their story.

I think we want the media to be a part of the event. But we dont want them to interfere… It is a fine line… We just need to figure out how to make it work for everybody invovled (FIRST, the teams, the sponsors, and the media).


The media men were definately in our faces. I remember at one of our matches the camera guy was right in front of me almost causing me to drop the robot(which could have been really serious).

We definately should take steps to prevent such things. I feel they should have a limit to how close they can get to the field, and also somebody talks to them about how not to inferfere and why not. It is definatley a great plus point to be filmed by the media and interviews etc…,.

Let’s hope FIRST takes steps to prevent such stuff for future events, but at the same time give the media a fair amount of closeness so that they can get good footage and pictures all around.

NOTEThis post is a continuation of Dave’s post. Read his first for more infoNOTE

I too see the problem we are having, and not just the problem where the media is affecting the game, but where it almost seems that instead of FIRST trying to run an event for the kids, they are running a huge press release for the media. Now, while media coverage is good for FIRST, I think FIRST needs to limit the media, here’s what I suggest…

FIRST Championship Media Proposal

This proposal will fix three things wrong with the current media ‘problem’ at regional and championship events.

Problem: Current media at FIRST events has a total run of a place. They can literally pull over any team to interview them anywhere they want. Television crews can go anywhere they want. FIRST needs to limit their access to make it feel more like an event for the teams and kids than a huge press event.


Large Mike & Camera Booms- Mike and camera booms have caused problems with robots and matches, while they offer good above views, they get too close sometimes and very often the operators want to get right next to the robots for action shots, forgetting that this is a competition and anything can happen. You don’t see camera men and booms floating a few feet away in football games. No, those are far away. The solution for this problem is above, as in a place where nobody goes and nothing is happening, and is far away from the teams. The second floor balcony is far enough away, yet close enough for good shots. Crews could even set up mini booms up there that’ll go out a few feet and could pan and move. This could be used with other stationary cameras near the field to give the illusion of you being in the action without having to risk outside interference. This situation also has an added benefit of being out of the view of the audience so they can see the action.

Interviews- One instance of this is the most memorable, it’s with MOE after one of their matches. Once they won, they were immediately pulled over for a long interview infront of the field, even when matches where going on, preventing some from seeing whats going on. It’s not MOE’s fault, but CNN and the access problems. But on the other hand, TechTV’s interviews were behind the curtain and out of the way, which is a great thing. The solution for this would for this would be to have a ‘robot victory lane’ (we are all winners, remember!) that the press would set up next to. When they wanted an interview, they would pull over a team if they needed to and interview them. This will give everyone the same chance and also push the media to the side so they won’t be infront the of the field. If you want to get really organized, have a media outlet focused on one field each, have CNN on Curie, ABC on Newton, TechTV on Galileo, and so forth and so on.

Press on the ground (or also known as 'The cameras are breeding like rabbits on viagra!)- As noted in other places, the biggest problem is the large amount of press walking around the field, both from teams and from media outlets. At times they block the few, and even worse they inhibit scoring of the game. What is a helpless team going to do?!?! Well, lets go back to kindergarten, when at some schools (at least mine) we used colored carpet to separate groups and locations. There would be three sets of credentials on the play field:

Media pass-for team media and the media. This pass would give access to an area next to the curtain, behind the curtain, and some places behind the player stations with red carpet.

General drive crew access- This allows for access to anywhere except the field.

‘Robo movers’ pass- They would get access to the same as the drive crew pass, but they will have access to the field for removal and placement of the robot before and after matches after scoring is done. There will only be two per team who have this access.

All these recommendations are based on what I’ve seen at the Championship this past April. If FIRST already has programs like this in place, then they weren’t immediately obvious to me while in the stands. Yet this isn’t the only problem. I miss the days when Dean when through all of the pits and talked to teams, I didn’t see any of that this year. I didn’t see the governor of Georgia there, and he is in the same city! Yet at Epcot, Gov Bush was there, and he had a long drive/fly to get there!

Okay. Who’s bright idea was it to post a thread I really want to answer thouroughly in the middle of my finals? :stuck_out_tongue:

Anyway, my first question is, what happened? Back in the day (positive reps to whomever remembers when Sandra ran media for FIRST :slight_smile: ) a lot of these solutions that we’re suggesting were in place. There were specific areas for media crews, we walked the news crews around that would be most likely to make the most disturbance, we had the media platform to keep the crews off the field (as much as everyone hated that thing, it did alleviate the issue somewhat).

It could just be that the bar has been raised on what is considered “good” press since then…and because of that the “power of the supplier of media” (aka, the media itself) has strengthened…thus giving FIRST less leverage in getting them to come to the event. Because of this, FIRST may need to offer more access than has been offered in the past, just to get the crews to come. We’re also not thinking about any extraneous contracts that FIRST may have made without us knowing. Maybe CNN had a contract with FIRST for certain access in exchange for air time on their stations, and TechTV had a different contract with different terms.

So what does FIRST need to do?
-Make the venue work. All of these suggestions (the use of the 2nd balcony, the winners area, etc) are great, and should be put back into place. Is this just a matter of growing pains dealing with Arena-style FIRST? If it is, then it should be one of the summer’s objectives to make this work by Nationals 2005.
-Stand up for itself. Bring everyone’s aforementioned suggestions to be, but in return, setup a press conference with Dean, or something equally attractive. All it takes is a bit of negotiation.

Of course, to bring these things to be, we all know what this means…more volunteers. And although the media job is rather interesting, if we are in a general volunteer shortage, then we’re going to have trouble finding people to fill the void, no matter what. My solution to that? Approach a local Atlanta college communications or media relations academic department and open the positions to them as an experience-based volunteering job or an extra credit assignment. You would have people fighting over the positions!

-Jessica “I feel old because I was in the media tent in 2000” Boucher

Perhaps the nationals should look to the regionals for guidance. I know at the lone star regional, there is a specific media aera off to the side of one field. All of the shots from that aera are decent, it is close up, and does not interfere with the robot or game traffic. It seems like a simple, workable solution: Let the media roam free(un the middle), but when they are near a playing field, they have to be in their box.

Oh…and the camera booms were for TechTV


I know at least one of the booms was for TBS, they are doing a special on team…


There was also a cameraman that Dave and I talked to from MTV, I believe they were profiling some students.

I completely agree with Dave Lavery… restrict those cameras, but don’t necessarily just leave them on the wayside. In St. Louis, there had to be announcements made because the media flocked the field and ended up just getting in the way (students being blocked from putting up their controls because there are pictures being taken, robot carts running over camerabags lying everywhere, etc.). While this can’t get out of hand, it’s still an important part of FIRST. We may need publicity, but we don’t need field fiascos every few minutes.

I would strongly support changes in media policy…for one, I’d prefer 2 passes for team media people, one for video and one for camera. This wouldn’t clutter the field because FIRSTers know when to get out of the way (or at least I assume they do)

Second, create an interview area somewhere…In the pits, on the side of the field…some place other than right during competition. It really irritated me when I was trying to watch or get a camera shot from the stands and media people were swarming around the field.

Third, introduce the use of lighting truss mounted cameras so the booms don’t get in the way. Limit these to about 2 per field.

This I can vouch for: they don’t, because not everyone thinks the same way. Teams want different things out of their footage…some are just happy with match footage, some want 10 minutes before and after. Then there’s the teams who want “setup time” so that the shot is to the team’s liking. There’s nothing wrong with any of this…I can sympathize that the media persons are trying to get the absolute best footage for their team, because this footage is extremely important year-round. But along with having the access to the field, there has to be some regulation so that everyone has a fair chance of getting the best footage possible.

The most fair thing to do in this situation is let teams into the area right after the score was released for the match before them, and ask them to leave right after the score is shown for their match.

Once again, this regulation used to be in place, at nationals with the media platform. What happened to this regulation?

If you talked to the pit admin table at nats this year or just knew where o go, your team could obtain a media pass which allowed the holder to go to the field and do video or photos. Though if you were in the way you would be asked to move and your media pass could be repossessed. This was one way to keep the amount of people to a minimum where there were strict “rules enforced”. Also at all fields there are media crates you can hook into with your own equitpment and record what is displayed on that fields big screen. Next year read the section (this year #10) at the events and you will see info mentioned on media and what is and isnt allowed.

I was disturbed to see that the event was being covered in great detail by America’s top Communist propaganda machine, the Communist News Network (CNN). They appeared to be getting in everybody’s way and from their reporting (at least what I saw on NEXT) didn’t seem to grasp what people are doing in FIRST (besides being brainwashed by Dean Kamen).

It was ALMOST as intrusive as Jesse Jackson was at Houston in 2003.

Well, CNN does live right next door to the GeorgiaDome, after all.