|Location:||Lansing, Michigan, United States|
|Focus:||general science fiction, media fandom|
|Founder:||Lori Chapek-Carleton and Gordon Carleton|
|URL:||MediaWest*Con Main Website|
|Click here for related articles on Fanlore.|
MediaWest*Con is a general SF/media convention, held every Memorial Day Weekend (the final weekend in May) in Lansing, Michigan. MediaWest*Con is sponsored by T'Kuhtian Press, Lori Chapek-Carleton and Gordon Carleton as a celebration of the diversity of SF/Media fandom, run by fans, for fans, and is staffed entirely by volunteers. It has no paid guests or speakers.
A fan in 1994 described it as one of the pinnacles of her year: "MediaWest, for me, boils down to a meeting of friends-cum-family, a unique union of minds, a whirlwind of pure creativity, good humor and bad puns, chocolate, and a healthy dose of hormones." 
Regarding the asterisk in the con's title: "MediaWest*Con inherited the asterisk from the K*WestCons in Kalamazoo MI, on which MW*C was, in part, modeled. As for why they used it, you'll have to ask Paula Smith or Sharon Ferraro. We have observed that other media cons have started using asterisks in their names, so we assume the association is an acknowledgement of the success of MediaWest*Con."
The first of the cons that would become MediaWest*Con was held in 1978 and organized by Lori Chapek-Carleton, Gordon Carleton, and Paula Smith who were zine publishers. This first con was called T'Con and held at the Lansing Hilton Inn in 1978. The second T'Con was held in 1979 and called "2'Con." . T'Con was descended from SekWestercon (1976-1977), the first by fans, for fans, Trek con.
"We did not hold a convention in 1980. The plan at the time was to alternate every other year with other SF/Media conventions held elsewhere, in this case Mos' Eastly in New York. That plan didn't work out." 
It was a time of great rebellion. Spurned by some general Science Fiction fans and conventions, derided by some as "Trekkies," Star Trek Fandom broke away and grew as a distinct fandom in its own right, holding its own conventions and publishing its own fanzines.
When Star Wars began to generate a fandom of its own, some Star Trek fans felt threatened by this sudden upstart and began to treat Star Wars fans as badly as they had been treated. Others, however, thought there was room for a variety of interests, and Media Fandom was born.
Despite the upsurge in interest in SF/Media, fan-run conventions began to dwindle in the late 1970's, due, in part, to the increasing cost of speakers' fees, and to the increased competition of conventions run for profit (which, in turn, increased the cost of speakers' fees...). Something had to be done.
So we did.
Under the tutelage of KWest*Con veterans Paula Smith and Sharon Ferraro, a format was conceived: an SF/Media convention run by fans, for fans, with no paid guests. It had been observed that at conventions with little or no Media programming, fans would gather in the halls, or wherever they could, and have their own discussions, workshops, etc., but it was anyone's guess if there would be enough interest to support an entire convention without the drawing power of professional authors, actors, etc..There was, and there is. 
The initial success and popularity of MediaWest*Con led some fans to call for a multi-fandom media Worldcon in terms of scope and scale. One of the reasons behind this call was the ongoing marginalization that media fans felt from literary science fiction and fantasy community and that Worldcon was not a welcoming venue. Others wanted the various media fandom conventions to coordinate their schedules, if not combine their efforts.
In 1983, Gordon Carleton put that possibility of a single media based Worldcon to rest:
"If there is ever to be a WorldCon-scale multi-media convention, in May or any other time, it will not be MediaWest*Con...MW*C was never intended to be in any way like a WorldCon. MW*C is intended to be an inexpensive, low-pressure convention with programming based on the input of its members. This is why we limit membership to a comfortable number. While we are complimented that some people may think of MW*C as "The Con" it was never intended to be anything but the convention that we put on in the best way we know how. MW*C is not an entity that can be put on by others anywhere else, nor is it something that can be voted on to alter its basic form and purpose. We suggest that people interested in [finding] a WordCon-scale convention ..[that will] recognize media/sf fen become involved in WorldCon. You know, the real thing? Wouldn't it be better to award a Fan Hugo than a pseudo-Fan Hugo? [At Worldcon], one is able to become involved in all the large committees, political infighting and all the other fun elements necessitated by planning an event on that scale."
Over the years, attendance at MediaWest*Con has steadily declined. It remains however, the largest media fan run convention in the United States.
Information about the con was first offered online in 1995. This is the earliest surviving archived version of the website, 1997.
About the Con Today
The con has a dealers' room where members can buy all sort of things including zines. In the past, space in the dealer's room often sold out quickly, leading to a tradition of fans in the main hotel selling zines and other fannish items out of their rooms. In the evenings after the dealer's room closes, many members made a circuit of all floors of the hotel, looking for rooms with open doors and merchandise to sell.
MediaWest also hosts the annual FanQs, or "Fan Quality" awards.  In addition, there is a 'Door Decoration' Contest. A Video Room is offered where fans can watch episodes of their favorite TV shows along with a Fanzine Reading Room. Finally, members can reserve the "Party Suite" to host parties with themes focusing on their favorite TV shows.
The con is family-friendly and thus leans heavily toward gen, but adult materials (both het and slash) materials are welcome as long as they're not blatantly in the face of small children. During the main vidshow, "mature" (het adult) vids are shown after 9pm, and slash vids are shown after the mature vids.
Fans decorate their doors and often sections of the hallway for the door decoration contest, and to attract members to their room sales. Door decorations might be anything from a few posters to a Stargate, a Tardis, or a fireplace from Hogwarts. The hotel also allowed advertising flyers to be posted in elevators and foyers during the convention.
MediaWest*Con offers extensive programming: panels are held Friday through Monday. Topics can include discussions about TV shows, actors and feature films, both gen, het (mature/adult) and slash themes.
Some panels focus on literature while others look into meta discussions about trends in media fandom. Technical workshops are also offered on writing, vidding and crafting. Finally, a few hours of gaming are also offered.
From a 2014 progress report: "Programming is determined by member input and participation. Programming is intended for an adult audience. When suggesting topics, please keep in mind that that the majority of topics should reflect MW*C’s core interest of science fiction and fantasy. News, sports, so-called “reality” shows, game shows, etc. are generally outside our purview unless they have some sf/fantasy or other fannish content. Cardassians yes, Kardashians no."
Excerpts from a sample program book from 2004 can be viewed here: Intro & Programming, Videos & Masquerade, Panels, Hotel & Dealer's Room, Fanzine Dealers & Art Auction, Art Auction & Classifieds, Fanzine & Event Ads, and More Fanzine & Event Ads. A more recent example of the proposed 2008 programming is archived.
Many editors planned to have their new zines premiere at the con in May, and fans waited eagerly to see, and buy, the newest offerings.
FanQ (Fan Quality) Awards
The "FanQ" or "Fan Quality Awards" were awards given by convention attendees in recognition of the best work appearing in fanzines.
MediaWest*Con had always been a place for zineds to introduce new zines. A natural fan-gathering spot, the con's Fan Q Awards also added to the appeal of bringing one's zine out at what some considered media fans' biggest party of the year.
In 1995, one fan questioned the trend of the con becoming the penultimate debut for print fanworks.
I've started illustrating for fanzines again, and I've noticed an uncomfortable trend in fanzine publishing, at least within the fringe I currently call home. All save one of the zines I illustrated for are slated for MediaWest*Con '95 release. It's not a biological imperative, like salmon heading upstream at spawning time (at least, I don't think it is), it's an economic one. Zine publishing is an expensive proposition, so publication is timed for the best chance for recouping those expenses quickly. That chance appears to be MediaWest.
Also, many fen are no longer willing to purchase zines through the mail, even from reputable editors or publishers whose work they know (well, except maybe through Bill Hupe's fannish version of Publishers Clearinghouse-no offense intended, Bill). Many fans save up all year for their MediaWest*Con fanzine feeding frenzy, and that's their zine-buying for the year. Maybe they don't want to pay postage. Maybe they've been burned in the past by publishers who took their money and in return sent drek -- or nothing at all.
Both these patterns of behavior are reasonable and eminently understandable. But the combination is turning into a vicious circle, with the one factor exacerbating the other to the point where supply and demand revolve crazily around one weekend a year.This puts enormous strain on fandom's creative resources -- authors, writers, and editors -- during those last few months before MediaWest (what some refer to as the "MediaWest Crunch"), and I find myself wondering whether this is affecting the quality of material being published. Is quality being sacrificed for the sake of getting the product out in time to catch the first wave (Thursday night, I'm told) of the MW*C feeding frenzy? 
The total represents volumes rather than issues. For example, some titles may have more than one issue in a given year.
|Year||Number of Zines Premiering at MediaWest*Con|
|2007 MediaWest*Con||97 (17 were original slash by Requiem Publications)|
|2010 MediaWest*Con||40 (6 were original slash by Requiem Publications)|
|2012 MediaWest*Con||57 (9 were SWAT/Unusuals zines by Requiem Publications)|
|2013 MediaWest*Con||32 (14 were SWAT/Unusuals zines by Requiem Publications)|
|2014 MediaWest*Con||20 (5 were original slash by Requiem Publications)|
|2015 MediaWest*Con||12 (4 were original slash by Requiem Publications)|
Fanzine Reading Room
From the 2015 progress report #1:
Our new, much more comfortable quarters meant a good increase in usage. There was also a nice increase in 'zine loans, especially Fan Q nominees. We now have the flexibility to set up quiet areas, conversation areas, and display for both Fan Fund and Fan Q's.
"Red-dotting" of 'zines that were also on sale at the con was successfully started. The list of 27 'zines and their sale locations was used frequently. 'Zine dealers, I'd appreciate any feedback you have.
The Permanent Loan Collection of almost 400 'zines was reduced by 85 items (these were donated to the Science Fiction Museum group, with their owners' permission), but we had 65 'zines handed in on the con's last day alone. These will be sorted out, with some going to the Collection and some to the Fan Fund.
Please remember, do not send 'zines to me directly. Please use the MediaWest*Con mailing address with "Attention: 'Zine Room" added. Please do send me a letter/note/card with the information on your loans (it will save you time at the con!). Anything mailed after May 10th will not reach me before the con. You may phone me, however, until the Wednesday before the con.
Special Note: The 'Zine Reading Room was originally set up to handle 'zines lent to us for the duration of the con only. However, over the years, and, almost by accident, we've become the custodians of a large Permanent Loan Collection. These include classics, long out-of-print 'zines, and items from almost every media fandom. This "archive" certainly adds variety to the 'zine room, especially in years with few temporary loans.
Unfortunately, care of the collection has become a real problem I can store them, but transportation is almost impossible. I make the 3 1/3 hour drive to Lansing in someone else's car, and also have to go through Canada/US customs. Staff members in the Lansing area are already storing convention stuff. In the short term, we'd like to hear from Lansing area attendees who are willing to store and/or transport all or part of the Collection. Storage areas should be cool, dry, and secure.The long-term future of the Collection will be the subject of a discussion at the con on Sunday afternoon in the 'Zine Room (time to be announced). Topics will include care, choice of items, etc. I'd appreciate hearing from interested parties.
The 'Zine Room has been part of MW*C since 1982! In that time, fan-fiction has changed from being only print 'zines that were regionally or, at best, nationally known and available to fan writing that is primarily on-line fanfic with free world-wide access. MW*C is one of the very few cons that still has 'zines for sale or for reading. And what was originally just a small room for con members to sit and read current 'zines lent by other con members has changed and grown as well. It's added some different things over the years -- a Fanzine Archive that covers 30+ years and over 30 different fandoms, displays of 'zines on sale at the con, and the SF/Media Fan Fund Charity Auction.
For many years, MediaWest*Con's biggest draw was its fanzine dealer's room. Hundreds of fanzines would premiere at MediaWest*Con and when the dealer's room doors would open Friday morning, the "feeding frenzy' of buyers snapping up fanzines could be quite fierce. As print fanzines began to wan in popularity the number of premiering fanzines dwindled and the number of fanzine dealers followed suit. Still, even in 2012 over 43 fanzine, fan art, jewelry and other craft dealers attended the convention.
MediaWest is also one of the few fan run conventions that allows "room dealers" or "hall dealers" (fans selling their zines and other memorabilia from their hotel rooms). The room dealers rely heavily on MediaWest*Con's liberal hotel flyer policy as posting the flyers in the hallways and elevators (with a description of the zine along with a room number) is often the only way to attract buyers.
In 2012 as part of a Facebook listing of memories of MediaWest*Con, one fan said: "... I'm also remembering the feeding frenzy for zines.... How people would burst into the dealers' room in a great wave at MW, and they'd be ten deep at the tables, frantically waving money at the sellers." Another fan added: "I remember standing in the main Dealer's Room at the old hotel, when a box filled with the new issue of some popular Star Wars fanzine (Kessel Run) arrived. It was placed on a table as a large crowd of anxious fans stood around, waiting. That box was emptied and all the zines sold and gone within a couple of minutes."
MediaWest sponsors an annual fund raising drive to "assist a fan in attending a convention of his/her choice, that he/she would otherwise be unable to attend." The SF/Media Fan Fund accepts nominations from the membership for the next year and then the attendees vote on the current recipient. Donors are asked to send $2 with their vote. More information and a list of the winners dating back to 1978 (pre-dating MediaWest) can be found here.
MediaWest also sponsors a blood drive at the convention. Door prizes are donated by members and handed out to the donors. Donors can also read fanzines while giving blood. The Blood Drive started in 1987.
"Why do you have Apocryphal memberships and allow pets? We found some people were buying full memberships for their stuffed critters, so we started offering Apocryphal memberships for stuffed or live critters and for alternate identities so as not to take up already limited regular memberships. As for pets, we had started bringing our dogs to the con so we didn't have to board them, which cleared the way for others to bring their pets, as long as they get along with the other animals and members (which goes for the humans as well!). Some people miss their pets too much, and some pets don't do well without their people." 
Almost all skits were performed Saturday night after the banquet.
For more info on skits, see More Specific Information on Individual Years.
The 2005 program book had this notice: "Videotaped programming at MW*C is provided to creatively further the interests of society through the study of techniques used in television, film, and other media. Videotapes are used productively to further interest and self-expression through the visual arts and literature, and we believe this to be a fair usage not intended as any form of copyright infringement."
Song Video Contest
MediaWest holds an annual Song Video (or songvid) contest for fan video makers. Vids are divided into various categories: Song Interpretation - Single Medium, Song Interpretation - Multi-Media, Humorous, Constructed Reality, Best Credits, Best Video Box and Best Video Flyer.
Entrants were formerly limited to no more than 15 minutes of video per person or group, and all vids were truly premieres. After submissions fell sharply in the late 00s, the 15 minute rule and requirement that submitting vidders also be attending or supporting members of the con were dropped. Vids must still be new to Media West, but they may be ones that have been previously shown elsewhere.
In addition adult themed or slash vids are segregated from the main show. "Mature" (het adult) vids are shown after 9pm, and slash vids are shown after the mature vids. While there is no entry fee, vidders must either volunteer or arrange to find someone to volunteer in the video room in order to show their vids. This makes it difficult for the non-attending vidder to submit their videos and may be one of the reasons that video submissions have declined recently as more and more vidding is displayed online. Other fans have cited discomfort with the con's policies for slash vids as a reason not to submit vids. Many fans posting vids online may also not have heard of the con or know little about it. In 2009, there were not enough entries for competition and the video show information is not available for 2010. Contest winners from previous years can be found on each individual convention year page. However, information for vid shows prior to 1998 is still being actively sought.
Because the Media West vid show played a significant role in the development of vidding culture (see The Genealogy of Vidding) in 2007 Vividcon devoted their own vidshow to showcase vids that had appeared at Media West over the years. A playlist can be found here.
In recent years, the rules for vid submissions have been informally relaxed as fewer and fewer vidders attend the event and the convention has done little outreach to the digital/online vidding community. In person attendance and a supporting membership may no longer be necessary to submit vids. Vids must be new to the con. Submission is via physical format, either VHS or DVD, and gen, mature, and slash vids must be separate.
Check with the vid show coordinator via email for the most recent submission requirements. The current policies can be found on the official MWC vid contest page.
Song Video Contest: Some RulesFrom the 2008 program book:
There will be Gen, Mature, and Slash divisions for the categories below. There will be no award in categories in which there are no competing entries.
Slash and Mature videos will be shown in separate groups, both groups will be shown after 9pm.
The Mature rating includes videos of all orientations that are of an adult nature. This would include such "steamy" examples as the Bunnies from Hell "Addicted to Love" Wiseguy video of a dozen years ago (it certainly raised the ambient room temperature back in the old Waverly Room...).
Also included would be songs with questionable lyrics, such as "Big Balls" from KOBA-TV -- which was ostensibly about large spheres, but was clearly intended to be a double entendre RE, ahem, manly endowment.
These Mature tapes/disks should be placed on a separate tape/disk, for showing in a separate session after 9pm. The time limit per entry remains 15 minutes per producer, Mature, Slash, and Gen videos combined. Slash and Mature vids will be shown in separate groups, but both groups will be shown after 9pm. This will allow those who do not want to see Slash to leave after Mature vids are played.
If a producer has any question about the rating of a particular video, there will be a screening session Thursday evening in the Fannish Video HQ (my room). It will be open to all producers who want to talk about video topics (not just ratings); this is the place to see if that "artsy" video really says what you want it to.
Definitions of Categories:
Song Interpretation: The basic type of fannish video. The action interprets the title and/or lyrics of the song. This category is divided into Single fandom and Multi-Fandom entries. Outstanding examples of song interpretation are "In the Living Years" (Magnum, P.I.) by California Crew, "Hotel California" (The Prisoner) by Bunnies from Hell, "Holding Out for a Hero" (Multi-Fandom) from a number of producers.
Constructed Reality: This type of video edits together video clips to create an all-new storyline. To date, most have been Multi-Fandom, although there was a very fine Wallace & Gromit single medium constructed reality created to "Something Strange is Happening." Examples are "Centerfield" (multi-baseball game), and "Bohemian Rhapsody" (the detectives convention) -- both by California Crew.
Humorous: These videos are intentionally funny, and can be either single Fandom or Multi-Fandom. Con Dog's "Just When You Need Someone to Turn To" (Beauty & the Beast to the tune of the Sheba cat food commercial) and California Crew's "Trigger Happy" (Multi-Fandom gun footage, including the best use of the royal Moldavian wedding massacre sequence from Dynasty) are outstanding examples.
Original: As the name implies, this is for the occasional foray into original video production. Less than 10% of the video may be "quoted" material from media sources. The subject matter should be of general fannish interest. California Crew created a video to the tune of "Pressure" about a weekend spent editing a fannish video.
Credits: With the rise in video software for personal computers, credits have become more and more sophisticated. This category includes opening and closing credits, as well as any credits between videos.
Video Box/DVD Jewel Case: This category may be entered by anyone with a video box or jewel case. There need not be any music videos entered. The inclusion of this category was prompted by the outstanding graphic work of Steele, Inc. -- Atlanta Division in boxing their Remington Steele videos.Flyer: In years past, California Crew and Steele, Inc. -- Atlanta Division have created their own flyers to publicize the contents of their competition videos, independent of the schedule postings of the Fannish Video Competition. We decided to add this Category to the 2000 MW*C Competition to promote creativity among video fen. As with Video Box/Jewel Case, an entrant need not have any actual video(s) to show. This would be an excellent way to showcase that killer video concept that you never got around to making. Entries in the Flyer category would be displayed outside the Fannish Video Room for all to enjoy. 
This is a judged competition.
For more information on the Masquerade, see More Specific Information on Individual Years.
Art Show and Art Auction
The art show winners are determined by a popular vote.
For more about specific art shows, see More Specific Information on Individual Years.
Door Decoration Contest
For more about the door decoration contest, see More Specific Information on Individual Years.
MediaWest offers a Door Decoration contest where fans decorate their hotel room doors with media themes and then are judged for originality and creativity. This is a unique contest as the majority of hotels do not allow guests to tape anything to the walls and doors. However, like the extensive flyers which are posted at the hotel entrance at near the elevators at each floor, door decoration has become an integral part of the convention experience.While door decoration awards officially began in 1990, 1988 was the first year a handful of doors were decorated. A TARDIS door, with part of the Fourth Doctor's scarf peeking out from under the threshold was one of that handful. In 1989, that fan's door said: "A perennial MediaWest*Con attendee recalls:
Some doors were personalized in 1988. However, 1989 was the first year any doors were elaborately decorated at MediaWest*Con. Building on our Doctor Who theme of the previous year, we turned our door into a pink TARDIS ('The Happiness Patrol'). The door was partly blue, with a blue stained paintbrush dangling from the knob, showing repainting had begun. A note read: 'Ace: get this fixed NOW -- The Doctor'.... the following year, 1990, the Door Decoration Awards were born. 
The door decoration is a judged competition.
During the first years, only the door could be decorated. Over the years those decorations became more and more extensive, often utilizing the surrounding walls and ceilings. In later years, embellishments were again constricted to only the door. A progress report in [need date] reminded fans of this new rule and added the positive spin of how these rules were a return to the activity's roots.
The MediaWest convention website does not offer detailed information on the Door Decoration Contest. To learn the rules, fans must pay to become members and wait for the intermittent progress reports. This makes it difficult for fans who are new to the convention to plan and participate in the contest. Still, the contest remains a draw to both new and old members.
From the 2012 progress report: "Registration will be required. Forms will be available at con registration. Judging will take place between 5pm Saturday and noon Sunday. Overall judging will be based on the following criteria: Artistic Impression (pretty), Cleverness, Humor, Originality, Technical/Complexity, and Workmanship (neatness counts). Awards will be certificates of recognition. Starting in 2012, the winner of “Best In Show” door will receive up to 2 free memberships to next years’ convention."
Below is a representative sample of a door photos from each year that are currently available. Additional door decoration photos are on each convention subpage by year.
Mediawest 2012, Winner 'Best Humour.' "Stay calm and text Sherlock." (Sherlock Holmes)
Media West 2011, Doctor Who memorial door - in memory of the Doctor Who actors who died since last year
2009 Door. Honorable Mention: Fannish Vanity Plates. Image courtesy canellfan
MediaWest 2008 Harry Potter
MediaWest 2007 - Heroes Door
MediaWest 2006, one of two Brokeback Mountain themed doors that year.
2005 Stargate Atlantis door
Mediawest 2003 - U.N. C.onditionalL.y BlondE (MUNCLE)
Mediawest 2002 - Best In Show: The Burrow - The Weasley Family Fireplace (Harry Potter)
MediaWest 2000- door memorial for DeForest Kelley (Dr McCoy), Star Trek actor
Mediawest 1999 - Zine Wars Door (Star Wars)
1997 Dalek Door Decoration (Doctor Who)
Communication Challenges: Rumors and Gossip, Controlling the Message, Telephones, the Internet, and Free SpeechFrom the 1991 progress report #1:
From the 1994 program book:"Remember, Lori and Gordon are the only two people to contact concerning the truth (or tack of it) pertaining to the annual MediaWest*Con rumors. Re this year's rumors, the convention has not been cancelled, we have not yet reached our Attending membership limits, nor have we been kicked out of the hotel. It's true we always reach our membership limits, but we're seldom sold out as quickly as everyone seems to think. And contrary to one rumor, you needn't be a fanzine writer to attend) IF YOU REALLY WANT TO KNOW THE TRUTH ABOUT ANY ASPECT OF MEDIAWEST*CON, CALL OR WRITE LORI OR GORDON. Accept no substitutes!"
From the 1995 progress report #2:"Anyone: who accesses any of the electronic bulletin boards is asked to send Media West*Con copies of anything referring to the convention that appears on the nets. Since we do not subscribe to GEnie, CompuServe or Prodigy, we have no idea what rumors might be swirling through those services, and we appreciate any help in tracking down comments. etc., as well as the opportunity to "set the record straight on a timely basis."
Also from the 1995 progress report #2: NOTE: See more about this at "Who Knows What E-Mail Lurks In The Hearts Of Fen?":"At all times, we'd like to emphasize that Co-Chairmen Lori Chapek-Carleton & Gordon Carleton are the official spokespeople for MediaWest*Con, & if you are in any doubt about any aspect of the convention, please contact us first (not last!). With that said, the list of staffers below can help you directly with the aspects of the convention they are coordinating. None of them will accept collect calls. Yon can confirm anything they tell you through Lori and Gordon; we are not responsible for misinformation circulated through unofficial channels."
"Who Knows What E-Mail Lurks In The Hearts Of Fen?"
In PR 3/1 we noted that some individuals were using GEnie, a commercial on-line computer service, to disseminate misinformation concerning MediaWest*Con policies and to make personal attacks against MediaWest*Con staff. At that time, GEnie had shut down its two MediaWest*Con topics within its Science Fiction Round Table 3 (SFRT3).
Most of the response we received was supportive (thank you!). However, we also heard from a few people who apparently think "freedom of speech" should only apply to them (or, at least, not to us). However, facts (such as the content of specific policies or the relative size of hotels) are not matters of "opinion." We still reserve the right to defend MediaWest*Con and its staff from personal attacks, to correct misinformation and debunk false rumors, and to publish whatever information we judge to be relevant to MediaWest*Con and its membership.
Not surprisingly, we heard from [Randy L] and Orion Press; in four separate letters demanding a retraction, they failed to provide any foundation for making such a demand. We also gave Randy the opportunity to provide documentation supporting a number of his specific statements posted on GEnie and elsewhere; he failed to provide any such evidence.
Randy has apparently now fled from GEnie,but has continued to disseminate misinformation concerning MediaWest*Con, including misrepresenting the contents of PR3/1. However, MediaWest*Con is not the only target of Randy's rantings; he has also assailed the venerable Star Trek Welcommittee.
We were also flamed via e-mail by [Mary B] (also a GEnie subscriber), with a bizarre series of unsupported and self-contradictory claims and allegations. She did, however, reveal that the false statement she'd posted in the GEnie MediaWest*Con topic claiming that someone with no con function (staff, etc) was "promised" a room reservation for MW*C 15 during MW*C 14 referred to Shirley Maiewski (of Star Trek Welcommittee). In reality, Shirley Maiewski did not ask us to bypass the MW*C 15 hotel reservation request process on her behalf, nor did we bypass it for her.
Since PR 3/1, GEnie has reopened a single MediaWest*Con topic, after arbitrarily deleting a block of earlier postings, apparently without regard to the specific content of each of those individual messages. Those messages which were deleted include incriminating statements made by the SFRT3 chief sysop (system operator). [Mary B] has continued to knowingly post misinformation concerning MediaWest*Con, and she and others have continued to violate various GEnie rules and guidelines with apparent impunity. The chief sysop, who herself had previously violated the rules she was supposed to be enforcing, has made private statements which conflict with her public pronouncements regarding the enforcement of GEnie rules in relation to MediaWest*Com.
Our research has found that GEnie has allowed personal attacks against MediaWest*Con to stand from as far back as 1992, and they have not been limited to the MediaWest*Con topic; subjects supposedly forbidden in the MediaWest*Con topic have been allowed, if not encouraged, under other topic headings.In short, we have seen little to indicate that GEnie pays more than lip service to its own rules of conduct, or is likely to in the immediate future."
On the unofficial MediaWest Facebook page in 2013, fans began sharing their suggestions for improving next year's convention. The convention organizers quickly set up their own Facebook page for MediaWest 2013 and asked for member input. It may have been the first time the convention allowed attendees to discuss the convention in a group setting and with one another as prior to that date, MediaWest would not allow discussions to take place (the official MediaWest mailing list was for announcements only. The same was the case for the MediaWest Blog where comments were disabled.) Two of the main points of topic: ways to attract new members (and to entice previous members into returning) as well as way to improve the Hotel Room Lottery system.
MediaWest*Con used a room lottery system for many years.
In 2014, MW*C sold single day memberships for the first time and eliminated the room lottery system.
Room Lottery: History
Many program books contained a history of the reasons behind the room lottery:
A Brief History of the MediaWest*Con Hotel Reservation Request Policy
Those of you who are new to MediaWest*Con may not be familiar with the reasons behind the hotel reservation request system which was implemented many years ago; as such, we thought the following history would bear repeating.
Due to experiences in having to share hotel space with a high school prom and a softball league early on, we learned to book all hotel function space and to block all sleeping rooms with preference for MW'C members; the best way to avoid conflicts with non-members is not to have them around. This policy has been in effect since 1982. After the failure of the old hotel to fulfill these contractual obligations during MediaWest*Con 11 (1991), we agreed to hold MediaWest*Con 12 at the Holiday Inn South (where they had been actively seeking our business for years). The new hotel was more than happy to have the volume of business MW*C represents. Shortly before MW*C 13, the hotel decided that they wanted to take room reservation requests during MW*C 13 for the following year, so we agreed on a system which was then noted in the Program Book. The hotel did not get the forms to us in time to include them in the membership packets; while the forms were eventually available at both con registration and the hotel reservation desk, many members remained unaware that advanced registration requests were possible. Even so, the number of people taking advantage of this opportunity were far greater than was anticipated, resulting in long lines Monday morning (complicating the check-out process). The hotel staff was overwhelmed, receiving reservation requests for the following year in excess of the available rooms before the end of the con (the hotel now considers their taking room reservation requests during the con to be a BAD IDEA). Understandably, those who were shut out also brought the matter to our attention, pointing out that this system favored those already staying in the host hotel (by general proximity and access to the forms) and discriminated against those staying in other hotels (proximity and access to forms), full members who were unable to attend (due to lack of advance notice), Supporting members (same), and any others who might later become members. As always, we listened to member input and took steps to address these concerns.
We addressed the concern of those who questioned the randomness of the process by fine-tuning the procedure in adding the random selection (by Attending members' own hands) of numbered ticket stubs, which determined the order in which reservation requests were processed (again, with the knowledge and consent of hotel management). As with any change, we fully expected that some people would have questions and/or objections, and we have tried to address them. Not surprisingly, many of the objections/suggestions we received (in all forms) reflected a lack of understanding of the problems inherent in putting on a convention, as well as problems unique to MediaWest*Con; the average attendee, and some more experienced members, are simply unaware of many things we have to take into consideration.
The fact of the matter is that the MediaWestCon 15 hotel reservation request system accomplished what it was intended to. Hotel check-out Monday morning was not impeded. Attending, non-attending, Supporting, and new members were given an equal chance at getting a room in the host hotel. We were able to verify membership numbers quickly, and pass on the forms to the hotel so that they were able to assign rooms and get out the confirmations ahead of schedule.
Some minor changes have been made to tweak the system over the years. We had hoped the planned hotel expansion would alleviate the need for the present system. However, in the post-9/11 economy, it doesn't look like the expansion will be done any time soon. So, for now, it just isn't possible for everyone to have a room in the host hotel. We have simply tried to create a system that addresses that problem in as fair a manner as possible.You can help the system run more smoothly by writing legibly, and by following directions. Please help us help you.
Room Lottery: Some CommentsBecause in the past the main hotel generally did not have enough space for all of the attendees, a room lottery for the main hotel is held. The lottery was put in place in 1995 after some fans complained that the hotel rooms were being booked at the convention for the next year - this then meant that new attendees or members who could not plan a year in advance could not get rooms in the main hotel. In the 1994 Program Book, the convention organizers wrote:
In the years that followed the lottery (which the convention organizers call a "room reservation" system), some attendees seemed satisfied with the system. As one fan explained in the 2012 Facebook thread:"This system was set up after long discussions with the Holiday Inn South after we received many complaints that people were shut out last year before they had a chance to even attempt to reserve a room at the Holiday Inn South. To date, we have received complaints from approximately 25 people who do not like the new system. Give it a try for 1995, and we are open to suggestions on how to handle room reservation requests at the hotel for future years. For those who wonder, we have always determined MediaWest*Con's location based on the amount of function space. The Holiday Inn South is the largest hotel in Lansing, and also has the largest number of nearby hotels. Because we live in Lansing, we do not anticipate moving MediaWest*Con outside the area. There are facilities with more function space, but they are more limited In terms of immediately available hotel guest rooms."
However, not all fans support the lottery system. Some fans have complained that late notification or other problems with the lottery and the fact that nearby overflow hotels aren't within walking distance makes it impossible for them to attend. Even as early as 1995, fans were critical of the lottery system. In 1995 Mary Bloemeker held an informal survey on rec.arts.sf.fandom about the room lottery:"Personally, we have no problem with the lottery. When the system works, we're notified in January if we have a room, and if not are given a choice if we want to be put on a waiting list and still have 4 months to find an alternative. The first few years I attended MWC I chose not to participate in the lottery and thought I would save a few sheckles by making my own reservations in a local motel. I may have saved about $20, but also had noisy traffic outdoors, thin walls, few pillows, mold on the walls and shower curtains, and none of the conveniences or amenities of the host hotel. It didn't take me long to switch. I'm now spoiled by the lottery, which seems the fairest way to work it until someone comes up with something better."
And in 1995, at least one large fanzine publisher stopped attending MediaWest due to the room lottery."I've been asked by several people for the results of the informal poll I conducted a few months ago here and on a few other online services as well as the Internet, about the MediaWest*Con hotel room lot--ah, assignment policy. While I now freely admit that my sole motivation in conducting the survey in the first place was to find out to what incredible and bizarre conclusions that some people might jump to about my motivations (a smashing success), I did come across some surprising results.
Of the approximately twenty replies, only two seemed to be in active support of the room assignment system. I say seem' because the two respondents seemed a lot more interested in telling me what my problem was than in actually answering the question. Of the remaining replies, I was surprised to discover that the main assumption that was being made about who would respond to my survey--that is, that only those disgruntled by having not gotten a room via the new system would bother to respond-- turned out not to be true at all. There were two (yes, two) people who confessed to having not gotten a room under the system, and both had immediately signed on with a friend who had gotten a room because all the people who intended to room together submitted separate applications, enhancing their chances of getting at least one room. The rest of the respondents were split about down the middle, between those who _did_ get a room under the system and those who would have never gotten a room under any circumstances, because they could never know from one year to the next whether they'd be able to attend the con in the first place. The primary objection in all those cases was that the system didn't address what the respondents felt was the real problem, which was that the hotel rooms only went to those people who could plan on attending the convention a year in advance. For those who couldn't plan that far ahead, the new system is no better than first-come, first-served and certainly no fairer.I didn't hear from anyone who felt that they actually benefitted from the new system over the old one, though it would have been nice to get a response like that just to get a little balance and I still wouldn't mind hearing from someone coming from that perspective." 
"ORION PRESS, a fan-run, fan-supported press which has served Star Trek fandom for over fourteen years, has decided it will not have any presence at MediaWest*Con 15. Our decision is based on the unprecedented institution of a room lottery system which has left a number of our readers, contributors and editors without rooms in the convention hotel, thereby diminishing our enjoyment of the convention as well as adding undue expense to our convention budget. This being the case, ORION PRESS wishes to inform those readers who normally attend MediaWest*Con in order to purchase our zines that we will be taking part in REVELcon, ShoreLeave and other 1995 conventions to be announced later. We hope that ORION PRESS will be able to return to MediaWest*Con in future years. We will do so when the lottery assignment policies are replaced with something we and our readers find more acceptable."
As convention attendance is now much lower than in the 1980s and 1990s, some fans now wonder if the lottery system is still needed. Like it or hate it, the lottery is very unusual; almost every other major con operates on a first come first served basis.After the 2012 convention, the MediaWest organizers put out a call for suggestions for ways to improve the convention. Most responses raised two concerns: the need to find ways to attract both new and returning fans and eliminating the room lottery (which many felt would help attract new and returning fans). The latter suggestion received the most resistance from the convention organizers who, after fielding multiple inquiries, finally explained that:
"We have been very clear that we don't intend to change the early reservation system in any drastic way...I have thought [about these issues] for considerably more than a minute, as the same tired arguments have been made for years. Tales of unnamed friends and hypothetical new people [who are being driven away by the reservation system] are, indeed, apocryphal horror stories....Perhaps if people want to be helpful they could try not making the early reservation system sound scary to prospective members....Bottom line is, piss us off enough and there will be no MW*C."
More Specific Information on Individual Years
Information on other years, including art show winners, masquerade contest winners, door decoration contest, convention reports, and photos can be found on each convention subpage by year.
Joan Verba's Memories of the First Media West in 1981From Boldly Writing:
The fanzine convention of the year was MediaWest Con I, held on May 22-25 at the Lansing Hilton. The convention committee consisted of Paula Smith, Lori Chapek-Carleton, and Gordon Carleton. The convention was truly a 'media' convention, now. Only three panels were wholly about Star Trek. One panel, 'Fan Wars or the ST-SW Feud], was partially about Star Trek. (To the best of my memory, the panel featured a lot of grumbling, but no real resolution. Time took care of most of this sort of friction.) The remaining panels were of other fandoms (mostly Star Wars) or generic topics such as author/editor relationships. In order to better inform fans about the nominees for the Fan Q, the committee put together a booklet with excerpts from the nominees, called The Fifth Annual Fan Q Awards 1981 Nominations Booklet. Winners were Bev Clark as favorite editor for Skywalker 4 (Star Wars), Barbara Wenk as favorite short story author, for 'Imperial Soliloquy,' in Warped Space (Star Wars), Paula Block as favorite poet for 'Stargame' (Star Wars), Joni Wagner as favorite artist for Facets 4 (Star Wars), and Barbara Wenk for favorite long story author for One Way Mirror. The voters also persuaded the Fan Q committee to divide the next year's awards into interest categories. This convention was the first time I encountered the 'all Star Trek fanzines nowadays are K/S' attitude (though it was certainly not the last). The theory was not true at that time, or at any time afterwards. The myth, however, persisted among many fans, especially former Star Trek fanzine fans, to this day. For example, in the July/August 1981 issue of Universal Translator, of the all-Star Trek fanzines, I counted over 90 non-K/S fanzines, as opposed to only 3 K/S. Although the K/S fanzines became more numerous, proportionately, with time, K/S fanzines generally made up less than half of all-Star Trek fanzines.
General MemoriesIn October 2012 a fan wrote of her memories of MediaWest:
"Baltimore was the Mecca for Star Trek fandom, Lansing, Michigan was the Mecca for general media fandom because of The MediaWest Convention. For my friend who adored Starsky and Hutch, it was a meeting place for that group. And it would be the place I would get to meet Man from U.N.C.L.E. fans who lived in other parts of the United States and Canada.
My early years at Shore Leave had been the most fun I’d had up to that point; Media West rivaled those times, with the added bonus of having a best friend who was as enthused about my show as I was. The convention lasted five days, with about 900 fans of a variety of shows: Man from U.N.C.L.E., Dr. Who, Star Wars, Stargate, Starsky and Hutch... even Walker, Texas Ranger. And of course Star Trek fandom which never died.
Regular programming included discussion panels, continuous videos, art shows and an art auction. The dealers' room offered books, memorabilia, and fanzines -- amateur publications written by fans.The convention hotel, Holiday Inn South, was taken over by fans during the entire weekend. The convention lasted five days. It was a continuous party, being so much fun that I resented that I had to spend some of the time sleeping. There is nothing that is more fun than watching an episode of your favorite show with 30 fan friends giving commentary that revealed insights you never thought of before about your favorite characters."
In 2011, one fan mused about Mediawest in the 1980s:
- "Some of our best memories come from the art show - the great characters doing the auctioning, the great art, the prices some things went for, the Invisible Man (I don't think I've ever laughed so hard!), raising money for people's pets or surgery or dental bills and being staggered (but not really surprised) by people's generosity when help was needed, terrific panels..."
- "I remember seeing a game of Fizzbin in the piano pit the first year we moved into the new hotel, and the staff were staggered when they heard bets of "My creaky old spaceship" and "The Silly Rabbit Galaxy"! And then the hilarity when gameplay stopped because everyone had to crawl around -- counterclock-wise, of course! -- on the floor, and bark three times before resuming their chairs. The winner was decided when the last challenger left pinned him to the floor and made him recite the opening of the Star Trek theme. I had more fun watching the hotel staff's eyes widen in amazement than the actual goings-on."
- "My favorite memories are about the excitement that would swirl around certain editors bringing new zines out for the con. People would be so looking forward to the latest innovation someone was introducing to zine publishing. The dealers room would be buzzing with speculation and commentary. A good-natured competition to see who could be first at something. It was an exciting time to be in zine publishing."
- "How many of you remember the big groups of people who used to roam the convention in costume? The Robin of Sherwood fans? Star Wars (John and Jenni Hennig and that bunch)! The Phantom of the Opera group/costumers? There used to be a group of young men who did the funniest costumes and skits." And "What you're remembering is our attempts to win the "best cheap" costume award. One year [we] wrapped a single Tom Baker Dr. Who scarf around ourselves and went as "Renegade Doctors in Bondage". Another year we covered ourselves in bandages and were "All of Harrison Ford's Injuries"
- "My first experience with the FOE [Blaster] battle was when some stranger ran into our room (our door was open to sell zines) and yelled, "Hide me, hide me!" I yelled back, "Who *are* you?" He waved his blaster. "I'm a rebel!" I pushed him into the bathroom and into the bathtub, then pulled the shower curtain closed, just as the stormtroopers ran down the hall. One glanced into our room and I just smiled at him beatifically. They moved on, and I let the rebel out of the bathroom, gave him a piece of pizza and he took off down the hallway with a howl, "Kessel run? Hah! I just stowed away in a *bathtub*!"
"I got active in fandom (writing fanfic) back around 1980 and attending cons about the same time. My first media con was one mostly dedicated to fanzines, their writers, filk singing, what we now know as cosplay, and performing various skits (many of which were truly hilarious). Slash fic was common even then with a large number of them being sold (complete with artwork). What amazed me at the time was that most of the people I spoke to (and there were many) who wrote slash fic were female and straight. And most of the people reading it were female and straight as well. They raved about it. They craved it and bought hundreds of dollars worth of zines about it. To this day all I can do is scratch my head and ask why?"
For many more con reports by fans, see the convention subpages for each year.
Some General Memories: Fan Comments
The con once again was downsized due to the aging of the fandom that makes up its members, and the economy. It’s been that way for the last three years. We’ll see if the old energy comes back, but if it doesn’t, I’ve decided I wouldn’t want a reinvention. I don’t care about attracting younger and newer fen. I don’t give two hoots about gaming or any of their other interests, and have been to actor cons before. They’re fine, but it’s really nice to go to a con that doesn’t have to cater to actors’ egos. Also, mega-cons are fun in their way, but I like the more intimate setting here. So if it dies out, so what? It had a good run.I do remember the old energy and miss it, but at least I had the good fortune to attend for several years when Media West was a destination for Fandom Central. My first con was pre-Net, and the second was when the Internet began to be available to everyone, but not all of us had access or even knowledge of how to use it. For years MW managed to co-exist with the Internet, the zines still plentiful in the Dealers’ Room and hall dealers’ rooms, and the vids were numerous and the Art Show bursting with creativity, taking the Art Auction four hours or more to get through all the pieces for bid (now it takes only two), but you still get the chance to talk to people in panels and informally. If that isn’t flashy enough for newer fen, then so be it. Nothing will ever replace my memory of attending my first Media West and feeling, Yes! This is the place where I belong! These are my people! ;) 
I agree that many aspects of the con are simply idiosyncratic or typical of those other cons you mentioned, but MWC did feel very old fashioned to me the time I went for how everything has a slash/gen split.
(That's old fashioned to me not just for quarantining slash but for having precisely two categories with these two names.)
Having a vid contest instead of a vidshow also feels very old fashioned for this type of con, and showing vids off of physical media brought by vidders is extremely old fashioned. (As opposed to showing digital files or a dvd created by con staff.) Vid contests continue to be the modern norm elsewhere in fandom, however.I found the con to be simultaneously retro and a sad ghost of what you all tell me it used to be. 
- Can you teach an old convention new tricks? Advice for new fans considering attending a well-established convention by sockii, June 2, 2014
- Special note: from time to time, MediaWest*Con pages go offline and/or internal wesbite links break. Where possible, we will link to the more stable links stored on the Internet Archive. Up to date info can be found at the main MediaWest*Con website.--Morgan Dawn 19:46, 31 October 2009 (UTC)
- from Southern Enclave #39
- FAQ, Archived version
- "The Kalamazoo con, starting with KWest*Con way back in 1974, did not start out as strictly Star Trek cons, though Trek gained in emphasis over the years. T'Con was mostly Trek, but 2'Con was a blend, and Mor' Eastlerly was even more so." -- from Lori Chapek-Carleton in 1981, as per her letter to Interstat #42
- A brief history of MediaWest*Con, accessed March 26, 2011]
- http://www.mediawestcon.org/mwchist.htm History], accessed April 22. 2016
- In issue #13 of Jundland Wastes one fan wrote: I love your idea of having an annual media convention each year in the same manner in which the World Science Fiction Conventions are held, alternating bet ween the three major portions of the entire country. The way it is being done now has caused dissension and bitterness to an incredible degree. Just this past weekend at PhilCon, I almost got into an argument with a friend of several years standing over the fact that one of us is going to MediaWest*Con and the other to Altercon. It's a ridiculous situation when two conventions are held in the same part of the country on the same exact weekend for the same exact reasons when the basic reason for the dissension leading to the two separate conventions boils down to money and location. If there is a major convention held in different parts of the country by different people every year, then both problems will be solved." dated March 1983.
- Gordon Carleton's letter "media no world con" printed in Jundland Wastes issue #14, May 1983.
- http://www.mediawestcon.org/, accessed September 1, 2009. While membership may be capped, attendance at MediaWest has been declining as the convention ages and little outreach has been made to newer, more Internet based fans. Convention attendance at MediaWest 31 in 2011 was put at around 600 - still a respectable number for a multi-fandom fan run convention.
- MediaWest 2002 Fanzine Reading Room information page].
- FAQ, Archived version
- MediaWest*Con was the direct descendant of SeKWester*Con, the first Star Trek relaxacon held in 1976. Even then, the convention had one panel discussing slash, out of ten panels total -- about 10% of the programming. The slash percentage of overall programming held steady until at least the late 1990s (see the Slash Programming Debate of 1998). A more recent breakdown of slash vs gen vs het programming is not available.
- from the editorial in Psst... Hey Kid, Wanna Buy a Fanzine? #5
- MediaWest*Con Reminiscing on Facebook dated June 12, 2012.
- FAQ, Archived version
- reference link.
- from the 2008 first progress report, repeated in other later (up to 2016), and perhaps earlier progress reports
- This perennial MediaWest*Con attendee would prefer to remain anonymous. Because, the convention is returning to that hotel in 2013, and the gouges to get the duct tape off are probably still above that infamous door.
- Need to confirm date. Mentioned in the 1994 program guide for the following year. Also would help to understand when the random number assignments began.
- Comment posted in Barbara Staton's "I have a few questions for Lori and Gordon" dated June 11, 2012 (now locked).
- dated June 18 1995; link.
- letter sent to the adzine GAZ dated April 1995.
- The hotel has 300 rooms which are contractually guaranteed to MediaWest attendees. In 2012, the convention organizers estimated attendance around 500. Some fans felt that because most rooms were shared, there was sufficient hotel rooms and that the room lottery was no longer needed. Others pointed to the presence of non-convention hotel guests as further proof that there were now an adequate number of rooms. The convention organizers disagree with these conclusions. Deb Walsh's "Let's discuss ways to improve MediaWest' Facebook thread dated June 6-7, 2012.
- A series of Gordon Carleton's responses pulled from Deb Walsh's "Let's discuss ways to improve MediaWest' Facebook thread dated June 6-7, 2012 and fromDianne 'greenwoman' Wickes "I Have Some Thoughts" post on Facebook dated June 7, 2012. Note that the convention organizers are actively moderating the Facebook discussions and are deleting comments (thread now locked)
- Star Trek, U.N.C.L.E., Lansing and MI-O8 at the Daily Kos by JamieG dated October 30, 2012;reference link.
- Initially open to the public, now requires a Facebook account).
- Myka & H.G Wells dated July 18, 2011; reference link.
- bradygirl-12's MediaWest Convention report, dated May 2010.
- comments by Franzeska Dickson on Zinelist, quoted with permission, May 9, 2016