There are conventions and there are conventions…

Podcasting Banned From DWAS Time & AgainThe Time & Again DWAS convention will only be allowing people from the one particular podcast to record any conversations with the guests.  Clearly they are well within their rights to do so but it has ruffled a few feathers, to say the least.

A heated debate raged on Twitter earlier this evening between one podcaster who would be allowed to record and another who wouldn’t. Forgive me for being vague, I don’t want to turn this in any way personal, it’s the policy I want to examine not the people on any side of the of the ‘debate’!  I only name the event because people deserve to know in case the policy might affect their choice on whether to attend or not.

I want to take the heat out of the situation and look at it rationally and hear other people’s opinions on the subject, should they have any.

When asked, via email, “what are the chances of getting a few words with your guests for our podcast?”, the Doctor Who Appreciation Society (DWAS) responder replied “On this occasion we have agreed that <redacted!> will do any podcast in return for advertising on their site which we have been getting for some months now. At this stage I’m afraid I cannot turn around and say that someone else is also having access. However for the future,…?”

On the face of it that doesn’t sound totally unreasonable and does leave things open for the future.  It does, however, totally fail to take into account the sort of social gatherings conventions are, especially in this newly connected world.

DWAS, at one time, used to hold the biggest Doctor Who conventions in the world until the American cons, especially Gallifrey One, really took off.  Since then DWAS have rather melted away and haven’t held one of their once annual Panopticon extravaganzas since 2003.  Time and Again is very modest by comparison.

Perhaps we were spoilt by Whooverville? There all podcasters were treated equally, invited in even.  It was a wonderful atmosphere of freedom, fun and socialising.  It was run by fans, for fans.  The guests interacted with fans throughout the day in a casual way not a forced restricted way.  It was utterly unlike the sort of media expo where guests are segregated from the fans and any interaction has to be paid for in advance (the organisers acting like their pimps).  It’s a shame DWAS (a fan run organisation) has apparently gone at least some way down that route.  Even the great (and massive) Gallifrey One has, somehow, avoided that trap.

Doctor Who fandom has long since had its ‘in crowd’ of fans, a level above the ‘ming mong’ crowd.  That was always a sad state of affairs and I’m sorry to see that sort of elitism still exists.  I’m not asking for a fan panel like the podcaster’s panel at Whooverville.  I’m not asking for the guests to be forced to talk to every person with a handheld recorder – this isn’t a publicity event for a new film, after all.  All we’d like is to be able to ask a guest or a fan attendee if they’d be prepared to talk to us for a few moments.  We’re not looking for long in-depth interviews – that wouldn’t be fair on all the other attendees (or the poor people we’re wanting to talk to!)  Leave it up to the individual we ask to decide for themselves if they are willing to spare us those few moments.  If they’d rather not, then tell them they shouldn’t be afraid to say no.  We don’t consider them to be duty bound to do so, only for us not to be prevented from asking.  As one Twitter user said ‘There’s a difference between denying access to guests and giving podcasters special access. A big difference.’  I don’t think any of us are asking for special access, just equal access.

Whooverville was a masterstroke – invite all the podcasters along and get a lot of free publicity and general good will.  Good will epitomises Whooverville.  Time & Again seem to be taking the opposite view.  If the bad will I’ve seen generated this evening is anything to go by then Time & Again (and DWAS conventions in general from now on) could well go down in infamy.  That’s just not a way to run a convention.

Those people behind this short sighted decision should do themselves a favour and take another look at it.  Conventions should not be about control freakery but openness and fun.  Unless I’m not seeing the full picture here, this seems like a largely pointless self inflicted wound. A wound that may fester for years to come.  Reconsider.

15 Responses to "There are conventions and there are conventions…"

  1. Capricorn1 says:

    Excellent post, totally agree with the sentiments. They may have got some free advertising on A website but how much bad publicity will they now get from MANY podcasts and folks on Twitter?

  2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Katrina and Adam J Purcell. Adam J Purcell said: There are conventions and there are conventions…: The Time & Again DWAS convention will only be allow.. […]

  3. @timeflight says:

    Well said. DWAS and the w*****t need to learn a big lesson from this. I can’t attend this year, but I don’t want one-sided commentary from a certain podcaster with a toy stall catching guests as they pass by.

  4. It’s weird that a Time And Again, a non profit event, would be so anxious to prevent
    paying attendees from using recording devices.
    It’s a convention!
    sigh- At least if they catch you with a microphone you can say you’re cosplaying
    reporter Sarah Jane Smith!

  5. Hobbit says:

    Really glad I’m not going now – it smacks of the playground bully not letting the other kids play with his ball.

  6. For what it’s worth, I tend to follow Hanlon’s Razor (namely ‘Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.’)

    I’m no conspiracy theorist, I really do think that the people involved just didn’t think of the consequences. The podcast in question approached DWAS a few months ago, asking if they could attend and talk to the guests, in return for which they’d plug the event. At that point DWAS should have thought ‘that’s a good idea, I wonder if any other podcasts/publications might be interested in coming along too?’ Instead they didn’t think twice about it until Tony emailed them a few days ago and then, suddenly, DWAS panicked. The <redacted!> podcast has been promoting us all these months, we can’t have all these other podcasts suddenly descend on us now, potentially upsetting <redacted!>. Better say we have an exclusive arrangement (that <redacted!> later denies).

    It’s complicated. Misunderstandings, bruised egos, the lot!

    One thing is for sure, future conventions should give it a lot more thought!

  7. Macfadyan says:

    well, it seems that it’s not quite all over as yet…I am awaiting developments – and thats WITHOUT using the cream…

  8. Hobbit says:

    On the other hand, DWAS have been refusing to allow anyone to record panels since the 80s. No reason we should be surprised they’re still doing it now.

  9. Chewy says:

    Well you got it 100% wrong. Time & Again was a brilliant convention that will go down as one of the very best in ages.

  10. Hi Chewy,

    I am truly glad you enjoyed yourself at Time & Again.

    Sadly it’s a sentiment I cannot completely agree with. On the day we attempted to have a friendly chat with the organiser but his behaviour and general attitude were a disgrace.

    The podcast who was given an exclusive deal (apparently in return for having a dealers table there – and the financial kick back that would give DWAS) in the end completely failed to do any recording. Yes, that’s right, four podcasts were represented at the event but no speech freely flowed because three of those four were gagged.

    Then there is the incredibly cynical and money grabbing way the autographs were conducted. ‘Let’s attach the autograph table to one side of a dealer’s table’ someone must have thought. If you wanted someone’s autograph the chances are good that you’ll have had to (indirectly) pay for it by buying an authorised piece of merchandise first.

    In the old days of conventions not only did all the guests sign for free but any profits from the event went to charity. Times have apparently changed and not for the better.

    Fortunately the guests were great and it was solely down to them that this event was in any way salvaged. It’s just a shame we didn’t get to interact with them, rather than just being paraded in front of them, paying a toll as we did so. And who’s genius idea was that lottery to ask Tom Baker a question – what a great way to embarrass your headline guest…

  11. Chewy says:

    I’ve heard, and read, nothing but widepread praise for the event. I don’t think you let facts get in the way of your agenda (eg Paniopticon was nothing to do with DWAS for donkeys years, being a Dominitemporal Services event).

  12. I’ve never been to a Panopticon, so I cannot talk about those.

    I don’t wish to be dragged into a flame war here but I was a little surprised by your comment ‘I don’t think you let facts get in the way of your agenda’. To what facts are you referring? What of my previous comment do you disagree with?

    I really am pleased you (and hopefully others) enjoyed the event. Enjoyment is a subjective opinion and not a fact, however. Being a subjective opinion nobody can turn around and say you are wrong – you did enjoy it and that is good.

    What facts am I ignoring? What facts are you ignoring? The truth is somewhere inbetween, I suspect.

  13. Sheldon Collins says:

    On a personnal note, a big question bugs me…why was no interviews done? Even DWO didn’t do any and they had exclusive rights supposedly. Fandom should be together, not against each other – sheesh, I was there in the mid to late 80’s and don’t like this bickering.

    Whoverville, under Steve Hatcher, is the way cons should be run as are Fantom Film events to. Ther is no hassle or bickering, if you want autographs YOU DON’T PAY EXTRA. Paying extra gets right up my nose and I refuse to do it, even if it was Katy Manning and others, especially in a recession. I ask DWAS not to go the way of Tenth Planet cons.

    Time and Again with Tom was an embarressing shambles and Alan Stephens hogged his interviw with Graeme Harper and Co so I couldn’t ask any questions…and nor could anyone else. Rest of the con was good apart from some stewards unsure what was happening next.

    Only arrived just before Tom went on stage, but would have liked to have heard a real tribute and have a minutes silence for Barry’s sad death the day before.

    A success but nothing near as good as it could have been….but again I ask WHY NO PODCASTS?

  14. macfadyan says:

    Ok, spent a while pondering the replies here. Firstly, there is NO agenda from Staggering Stories or others here. What you are reading are genuine responses to a frankly unsatisfactory situation. Secondly, I may be wrong, but I don’t think that the old Panopticons were mentioned until Chewy brought them up. Domnitemporal Services was formed by DWAS to run the convention side of things. The directors were mainly DWAS exec members. So Panopticon WAS a DWAS event, run by the same people who would have run it if it were directly under the DWAS banner, instead of the DS banner. Don’t be confused by that. Similary, this time around a company for DWAS ran Time And Again. To say its not DWAS is to split the finest of hairs.

    Putting aside the debacle that was the lack of podcasting done at the event, and concentrating on the event itself, I too found it unsatisfactory. Adam has listed reasons above which I cannot help but agree with. Staggering Stories, and I include myself in this instance, are very old hands when it comes to conventions. Most of us have run them at some stage. We know what makes a good con and what doesn’t. And the commercial dominance of Time and Again is part of a very worrying trend.

    Conventions should be not for profit events. Anything left over after all expenses are paid should go to charity. There was/is a duel purpose to conventions. To provide the best possible experience for the attendees and to make money for charity – without ‘pressuring’ the attendees. If you want examples of the very finest conventions then look no further then the Exo-Space conventions and the Manopticon conventions. They were done for love, not money. Any dealers were all put in one room and attendees were given frequent reminders that they were there. That room was often a great place to meet and chat to people, away from the main hall.

    This is something that Time and Again simply didn’t have. We were paraded around in front of the special dealers, told that to get some autographs we had to purchase items. The only charity thing we could see was the raffle….. And DWAS couldn’t even do that properly.

    A friend of mine went to the Whooverville convention and then Time And Again. They also went, the following day, to the Hitchiker’s Guide event on the South Bank. Time and Again, in their opinion, simply didn’t come close to either of those two other conventions.

    And this is a sad thing. DWAS should be able to run a convention without having to sell out. They certainly used to be able to. Perhaps what we’re seeing here is the last gleaming of DWAS? If so its a damn shame. As for the attitude from the organisers, well.. That has, to a certain extent, and with a few notable exceptions (Steve Wickham for eg) been par for the course. DWAS high-ups always have a tendancy to think they are something special, better then the average fan. The charge of elitism has often been hurled at DWAS and one can see why.

    Perhaps the DWAS organisers, the Exec of today, should look to the past and see that conventions don’t have to be money making excercises. Relax the attitude and atmosphere and they could have a good reputation develop.

    Ok, I ‘think’ that all makes sense. Whilst unhappy with Time and Again, I am hoping that DWAS learn from it and perhaps, in future, things can be alot more friendly to attendees…

  15. wyn says:

    Ha! You’ve got an agenda, you’ve got an agenda.
    Chewy obviously never listens to the podcast. No sign of an agenda there!
    Bod be praised!

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