|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 was a general SF/media convention that was held every Memorial Day Weekend (the final weekend in May) in Lansing, Michigan between 1981-2009.
MediaWest*Con was 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 was staffed entirely by volunteers. It had 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."
More Specific Information on Individual Years
Information on other years, including art show winners, masquerade contest winners, photos, door decoration contest, con reports, program book covers, and programming information as well as info on the vid shows can be found on each convention subpage by year.
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.
Detailed Information on Specific Years
About the Con
The con had a dealers' room where members could buy all sort of things including zines. 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 closed, many members made a circuit of all floors of the hotel, looking for rooms with open doors and merchandise to sell.
MediaWest*Con also hosted the annual FanQs, or "Fan Quality" awards.  In addition, there was a 'Door Decoration' Contest. A Video Room was offered where fans could watch episodes of their favorite TV shows along with a Fanzine Reading Room. Finally, members could reserve the "Party Suite" to host parties with themes focusing on their favorite TV shows.
The con was " family-friendly" and thus leaned heavily toward gen, but adult materials (both het and slash) materials were welcome as long as they were not blatantly in the face of small children. During the main vidshow, "mature" (het adult) vids were shown after 9pm, and slash vids were shown after the mature vids. 
Fans decorated their doors and often sections of the hallway for the door decoration contest, and to attract members to their room sales. Some door decorations included things such as 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.
In 2014, the convention began offering single day passes, something that members had been requesting in the hopes it would increase attendance.
The con's last year was 2019.
The End of an Era
On February 4, 2020, Gordon Carleton and Lori Chapek-Carleton posted that, despite their best efforts, the 2020 con (the 40th) would not occur, and that MediaWest*Con would not continue in its original format. They cited "the graying of fandom, dwindling interest in fanzine culture, technology that makes face-to-face meetings seem superfluous, ever increasing travel expense and inconvenience, and SF/Media going mainstream" among the reasons.
Last year when we saw it was unlikely we would make the minimum number of hotel reservations we needed, we were able to renegotiate the hotel contract and cut back the function space to reduce the financial risk. While this meant we had to cut some long held functions like the Fannish Video Room and Fanzine Reading Room, it proved a wise precaution as we did make the new minimum but would not have made the original number of registrations needed.
For MW*C 40 we kept the downsized function space but were able to add back the game room while maintaining the same reduced risk.
Sadly, despite our best efforts to increase membership to a sustainable level, advance memberships are at an all-time low and show no sign of improving. Even with repeating the function space downsizing we instituted last year, this year it does not appear we would make the minimum number of hotel reservations needed to avoid thousands in hotel penalties. Therefore, we have no choice but to cancel MW*C 40 and notify attendees so that they can cancel their travel and hotel reservations in a timely fashion.
We hope people will understand that this is not an easy decision for us, and that it does NOT mean MediaWest*Con is dead. Rather, it gives us time to consider how MW*C may continue in some form.
Obviously, the myriad causes are nothing new — the graying of fandom, dwindling interest in fanzine culture, technology that makes face-to-face meetings seem superfluous, ever increasing travel expense and inconvenience, and SF/Media going mainstream, to name but a few. All have contributed to declining membership and participation in suggesting panel topics, Fan Q nominations, etc.. Nor are many of these issues unique to us, as other cons have suffered as well with no solution in sight.
All MW*C 40 memberships will be refunded. Refunds will be made as quickly as possible. Those who paid via PayPal will be refunded via PayPal unless we hear another preference. Due to checking account limitations it may be necessary to spread out payments by check.
The Fan Quality Awards will continue taking nominations, and voting will be conducted as usual online and by mail, with the final results posted on the MW*C website.
As always, we encourage members to subscribe to the MW*C blog to keep up with the latest updates and announcements. We will continue to maintain the MW*C blog and website (www.mediawestcon.org) as your primary sources of MW*C information.
Thanks to all the members, GoFers, Staffers, and other volunteers who have supported MW*C for over 40 years. MW*C has nurtured many long-term friendships, facilitated many great discussions, supported many dreams, and provided a safe haven for SF/Media fans with diverse interests to gather and share their passions. We never expected the the party to continue for over four decades! It would be wonderful to gather again in the future in celebration.We would like to do at least one final convention, but at this point it doesn’t appear there is enough interest to carry it out. — Lori & Gordon 
In mid-May, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a proposal for the con to be a virtual one. See MediaWest*Con 2020.
MediaWest*Con offered extensive programming: panels were held Friday through Monday. Topics included discussions about TV shows, actors and feature films, both gen, het (mature/adult) and slash themes.
Some panels focused on literature while others looked 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*Con 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*Con 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*Con) can be found here.
MediaWest*Con 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.
The "Star Trek Fan Fund" was founded by the editors of The Halkan Council in 1975 to financially enable Star Trek fans to attend a convention they otherwise would not be able to attend. The first winner was chosen under the auspices of The Halkan Council. The second year, it was sponsored by T'Kuhtian Press in connection with T'Con, 1978, with Carol Hydeman as coordinator. Carol Armour was the coordinator the third, fourth and possible other years. In 1980, the fund was sponsored by Poison Pen Press in connection with Mos'Eastly Con. In 1981, it was sponsored by T'Kuhtian Press in connection with MediaWest*Con, 1981 and called "The Media-Oriented Fan Fund."
From then on, the fan fund was a MediaWest*Con event and called "The SF/Media Fan Fund" to encompass the growing media fandom.
For more info, see: The SF/Media Fan Fund.
"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*Con 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*Con 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*Con 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*Con 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
MediaWest*Con 2009 Door. Honorable Mention: Fannish Vanity Plates. Image courtesy canellfan
MediaWest*Con 2008 Harry Potter
MediaWest*Con 2007 - Heroes Door
MediaWest*Con 2006, one of two Brokeback Mountain themed doors that year.
MediaWest*Con2005 Stargate Atlantis door
MediaWest*Con 2003 - U.N. C.onditionalL.y BlondE (MUNCLE)
MediaWest*Con 2002 - Best In Show: The Burrow - The Weasley Family Fireplace (Harry Potter)
MediaWest*Con 2000- door memorial for DeForest Kelley (Dr McCoy), Star Trek actor
MediaWest*Con 1999 - Zine Wars Door (Star Wars)
MediaWest*Con 1997 Dalek Door Decoration (Doctor Who)
At its height in the mid-late 1980s, the convention numbered over 500, with a long waiting list.In the 1985 Progress Report, David Manship analyzed the gender makeup of the membership:
David Manship has submitted the following information of general interest in his ongoing demographic study of media fandom,
He says this shows a 1.4 drop in the disparity between males and females over the last two ears, an almost 100% increase in males over last year, and 200 more people than last ear. Trend? He'll have the figures in post MediaWest Con IV as soon as the are finalized."
- MediaWestCon I membership consisted of 73 males, 434 females, totat 507, ratio 5.9 to 1.
- MediaWestCon II consisted of 59 males, 39 females, total 418, ratio 6.1 to 1.
- MediaWestCon I1I consisted of 5l males to 27 females, total 326, ratio 5.4 to 1.
- MediaWestCon IV consisted of 91 males, 434 females, total 525, ratio 4.8 to 1.
Communication Challenges: Rumors and Gossip, Controlling the Message, Telephones, the Internet, and Free Speech
1990sFrom 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:"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."
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."
After MediaWest*Con 2012 ended, fans began sharing their suggestions for improving next year's convention on an unofficial MediaWest*Con Facebook fan page. Two of the main topics: ways to attract new members (and to entice previous members into returning) as well as ways to improve the Early Hotel Reservation Request Procedure system. The convention organizers set up their own MediaWest*Con 2013 Facebook Event page a few days later on June 1, 2012 (MediaWest*Con 2013 ). Conversations on these Facebook pages may have been the first opportunities that convention attendees had to publicly discuss ways of improving the convention in a group setting.
Over the course of these conversations, the lines between "official" and "unofficial" spaces and persons were often blurred. For example, on May 29, 2012, volunteer Aron created a specific MediaWest*Con feedback thread using the convention's official Facebook account : "This is the place to sound off with feedback from this year! Please keep things civil and let's try to avoiding beating any dead horses" promising to relay the suggestions "to Lori and Gordon!" 
Commenters provided a range of suggestions, including: offering day passes, getting rid of the Early Hotel Reservation Request Procedure system (which many fans referred to as the "room lottery"), and multiple pleas to update the website. One attendee Sarah B wrote: "The tiled gray wallpaper, animated portal GIF and bright blue links scream "1998" and make MediaWest look like a fusty loser convention nobody would want to go to." Kimberly LA pointed out that "most people find music on sites annoying..... the "cheap Atari" sounding music gives visitors the impression that the people putting on the con don't know what they're doing or don't care about the convenience/comfort of potential customers." 
Not all feedback was negative, even from the critics. Sarah B also wrote: "Overall I had a great time at MW - I always do. It's wonderful to see friends, talk about movies and TV shows, etc." and "Thank you! And thanks for maintaining this great site!" Aron responded by summarizing: "So far we've discussed Day passes, flyers, website, advertising, lottery, trash/recycle boxes ....Let's find some other horses to beat until they are dead please. :-)" This did not sit well with attendee Dianne 'Greenwoman' W. : "The same topics keep coming up over and over again when suggestions are invited because people clearly think they are worthy and important ideas and concerns. Why are they only "dead horses" to those who are supposedly asking for suggestions on how to improve the con?" 
The conversation continued over at the official MediaWest*Con 2013 Facebook Event page where organizer Gordon engaged directly with the attendees:
"You're supposed to read [the website] before clicking the link to the hotel form. Apparently no one does. Longtime attendees keep posting things that make it clear they do not understand the system or how it works. Doesn't stop them from blaming it, however......if people want to be helpful, they might try learning what the system actually is and does and help educate their fellow members rather than grumble and dark corners of the Internet.....What hurts the con is people grumbling about and blaming the early reservation process for things that are not the fault of the process or wouldn't be any different with a different system."
In response to complaints about the website design (ex: flashing text), Gordon replied:
"People, we have the official blog….Not a lot of people have bothered to subscribe to it even though it gets the most up-to-date info and is searchable. Perhaps it has more appeal to those younger folks. Perhaps there's also some disagreement as to who we are trying to attract. I'm not much interested in random warm bodies that need to be entertained or people unwilling to simply read instructions. What we do want is literate people who might be interested in fanfic and are willing to contribute something to the con. Don't really care what ages. " 
A few attendees tried to smooth the waters. Debra H. wrote:
"I think I figured out the problem. There seems to be a huge disconnect between what the members are saying and what the organizers are saying. We see a con getting progressively smaller due to several reasons. We see zines are thing of the past and aren't an attraction anymore. We see that the net has impacted the dealers room, art show, and video. We see the ways tech can help both…" 
Other attendees suggested that the debate be taken back to private email so as to not turn off new members. Jilly H wrote:
"This is a public forum. If we are trying to draw new people to the event, they can see all of these comments. ... Instead of being invited to people to actually attend, they are seeing people sniping back-and-forth, and if they happen to catch comments before they removed the turn downright nasty-it's not going to encourage them to come to the convention, it's going to send them fleeing in the opposite direction. .. I would suggest that the people truly want to send suggestions, perhaps a private message or private group could be created, or even something set up to allow back-and-forth feedback." 
Whether official or unofficial, prior to that date, MediaWest*Con had historically preferred to communicate through announcements or private emails. The official MediaWest*Con mailing list on Yahoo Groups was for announcements only. The same is the case for the MediaWest*Con Blog where comments were - and still are, as of June 2018 -- moderated and not automatically available for public viewing. Much of the discussion that took place after MediaWest*Con 2012 is now gone and the official MediaWest* Con 2013 Facebook Event page has been deleted along with all of the comments, although an earlier example Event Page for MediaWest* Con 2012 remains available for viewing and the thread created by volunteer Aron using the convention's Facebook account also remains. 
On June 14, 2018, "Help Keep MW*C Blog Troll Free!" was posted to the MediaWest*Con blog: :
" This official MW*C blog is for official announcements. It is not a discussion list. For specific questions or to submit something for posting, e-mail [address redacted]. Clicking “reply” sends your reply to that e-mail address; we may reply directly or post something, as we deem appropriate."
Early Hotel Reservation Request Procedure
How It Works
Because in the past, the main hotel generally did not have enough space for all of the attendees, an Early Hotel Reservation Request Procedure was put in place in 1995, after some fans complained that the hotel rooms were being booked at the convention for the following year. This meant that new attendees who could not plan a year in advance or who did not sign up at the convention in person could not get rooms in the main hotel.
The system processes room reservations using randomly assigned numbers. Originally, these numbers were assigned to current attendees via ticket stubs as part of their program package. Once they registered and paid for the next year, they filled out a hotel reservation request form and mailed it to the convention organizers. The convention would submit the reservation requests to the hotel in order of ticket stub number. A confirmation letter would be sent to the attendee who then had to make payment directly to the hotel.
In the 1994 Program Book, the convention organizers describe the system:
This year upon check-in with con registration, you were offered a ticket stub to be attached to your Holiday Inn South hotel reservation request form for 1995. Please attach this stub to your form when turning it in, as this will determine the order in which your reservation request will be processed. If you wish to request adjoining or connecting rooms with anyone else, it is to your benefit to attach all the separate forms together under a single ticket stub number. All Holiday Inn South room reservation requests received by June 30, 1994, will be ordered numerically and the membership number will be validated before the requests are turned over to the Holiday Inn South for processing. Those who do not receive rooms will be placed on the waiting list. 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."
This multi-step and multi-person process often created delays in communication and, in the era before widespread email use, it meant that hotel registrations occasionally went astray. Changes to arrival and departure dates, type of hotel beds, room types, special accommodations etc exponentially increased the complexity of the communication system. In 2013, when the hotel hosting the convention was changed mid-year, it meant that fans had to resubmit their hotel reservation requests. And, to make the process even more painful, hotel liaison Carol Lynn pointed out in 2012 that the reservation system at the hotel hosting the convention at that time was so antiquated that every reservation she emailed to them had to be re-typed into their system by hotel staff. 
From the 2013 Progress Report 1:
"As we have had to change hotels, it has been necessary to adapt, and we will be revising the early reservation system in conjunction with Ramada Lansing. Because of this change, those who participated in the early reservation request system were either placed in Ramada or, when the Ramada block was filled, tentatively in Hampton Inn next door, the official MW*C auxiliary hotel, and will be notified as rooms become available in Ramada. Additional reservation requests will be forwarded to Hampton Inn Lansing West, and those members will be notified as rooms become available in Ramada. This way, everyone gets a guaranteed room. Ramada and Hampton Inn are happy to have the reservation requests handed to them and have MW*C Hotel Liaison Carol Lynn send the confirmations."
As of 2014, the registration forms can be submitted online and requests are processed in timestamp order. If you do not get a reservation at your primary choice of hotel, you are given one of your other ranked hotel choices and are automatically added to a waiting list in case rooms become available at your primary choice. The waiting list is also processed in order of timestamp from the system. If a room becomes available, you will be contacted before any changes are made. 
By 2017, the convention stopped accepting paper reservation requests. All hotel reservation requests must be made electronically via the MW*C website. The basic structure remains the same, attendees are required to filter their reservations through the convention rather than working directly with the hotels:
Reservation requests for MW*C 38 must be made through the MW*C reservation request system and will NOT be accepted at any of the participating hotels’ front desks during the con, or by the hotels by mail, FAX, phone, or hotels’ websites at any time."
In the years that followed the Early Hotel Reservation Request Procedure, some attendees seem satisfied with the system. As one fan explained in a 2012 Facebook thread:
"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."
However, not all fans support the Early Hotel Reservation Request Procedure. Some fans have complained that late notification of their room reservations makes it impossible for them to plan ahead as they do not want to buy airfare without a guaranteed room in the convention hotel.  Fans with disabilities or physical limitations  or without automobiles have pointed out that some of the nearby overflow hotels require crossing a 4 lane highway.Even as early as 1995, fans were critical of the Early Hotel Reservation Request Procedure system.
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. 
The convention organizers responded to Mary's online post in their 3rd progress report.
From MW*C 15 PR3 (May 1995):
Despite having received a full refund of her MW*C 15 membership, Mary Bloemker has continued to harass us by e-mail sent to our America Online address. Following AOL protocol, we notified her (and AOLand GEnie) that we would not be accepting any further communications from her; she has sent us over 40 pages of e-mail since that notification. Mary has also posted notices on GEnie, in several SF/Convention folders on AOL,and in several InterNet newsgroups (a practice known as "spamming"), ostensibly seeking opinions regarding MediaWest*Con hotel policies (the practice of trying to stir up trouble by posting a seemingly innocuous message is known as "trolling"). Not surprisingly, e-mail exchanges which were forwarded to us indicate that anyone who responds with an opinion that doesn't suit her risks being flamed.
Also in 1995, Randy Landers, a large fanzine publisher, announced he would not attend MediaWest*Con due to the Early Hotel Reservation Request Procedure:
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."
The convention organizers again responded in their Progress Report.
From MW*C 15 PR3 (May 1995):
Despite Randy Landers' public statements that Orion Press doesn't "need" MediaWest*Con, and their petulant promise that Orion Press wouldn't be represented at MediaWest*Con until we changed our policies to suit them, Randy has been advertising that someone "probably" will be authorized to represent Orion Press at MW*C 15; meanwhile, he has also continued to circulate misrepresentations regarding MediaWest*Con.
As convention attendance is now much lower than in the 1980s and 1990s, some fans have begun to wonder if the Early Hotel Reservation Request Procedure is still needed. They point out that the hotel has 300 rooms which are contractually guaranteed to MediaWest*Con 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 and empty rooms at the start of the convention as further proof that there were now an adequate number of rooms. The convention organizers disagreed with these conclusions.
You can read more of this discussion on the Mediawest 1995 page: "Who Knows What E-Mail Lurks In The Hearts Of Fen?"
During the June 2012 Facebook discussion, one of the top requests made by fans was eliminating the Early Hotel Reservation Request Procedure system. The convention organizers finally announced 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."
Early Hotel Reservation Request Procedure: Looking Back
Many MW*C program books contain a history of the reasons for the Early Hotel Reservation Request Procedure.
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.
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*Con:
"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*Con 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?"
Con Reports: Specific Years
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. 
- Media West, Fan Q's and slash fans by Flamingo (January 10, 1998)
- 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. Membership attendance at MediaWest*Con had been declining as the convention aged, fan focus shifted from print zines, and there was little outreach 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*Con 2002 Fanzine Reading Room information page].
- See Media West, Fan Q's and slash fans (1993) for some tensions regarding slash and gen programming.
- FAQ, Archived version
- 2014 Membership page.
- 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.
- The Facebook fan page was created in 2011, the year before MediaWest*Con 2012 by Aron Sandler and has since been deleted. However, a similar discussion thread still remains publicly accessible on the official MediaWest*Con Facebook page. thread/10151316964510910/
- The 2013 Event page has since been deleted.
- excerpts from Gordon's comments on the official MW*C 2013 Facebook event page, dated June 11, 2013. The Event Page has since been deleted.
- excerpts from Gordon's comments on the official MW*C 2013 Facebook event page, dated June 11, 2013. The Event Page has since been deleted.
- Debra H's post at the MW*C 2013 Facebook event page, dated June 11, 2013. The Event Page has since been deleted.
- Jilly H's post on the official MW*C 2013 Facebook event page, dated June 11, 2013. The Event Page has since been deleted. .
- , Archived version
- -keep-mwc-blog-troll-free/ Help Keep MW*C Blog Troll Free!
- "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." -- letter sent by Randy Landers to the adzine GAZ dated April 1995.
- "I didn't win the Holiday Inn lottery, so I stayed at the HoJo's across the street." -- from a Blake's 7 fan in Rallying Call #18 (1996)
- "I'm sure that by now you know that there was a lottery for rooms in the hotel for next year." -- from a Star Wars fan in Southern Enclave #39
- "Personally, we have no problem with the lottery." -- Once publicly accessible comment posted: Barbara Staton's "I have a few questions for Lori and Gordon" dated June 11, 2012 (now locked).
- "Some fans felt that because most rooms were shared, there was sufficient hotel rooms and that the room lottery was no longer needed." --Deb Walsh's "Let's discuss ways to improve MediaWest Facebook thread dated June 6-7, 2012.
- "....people were fed up with the room lottery. Some years you knew if you had a room in the host hotel only a few months after the previous cons, but other years you had to wait until only three or four months before the next con, and one memorable year notifications didn't go out until a month before. I talked to at least three people who quit going because of the lottery. Me? Finances and dealing with the airlines did me in, exhaustion with the room lottery, and sadness over the con's lack of energy. Media West*Con Memories: bradygirl_12, Archived version (June 2018).
- Comments posted in to Deb Walsh's "OK We're 90 confirmed" dated June 11, 2012 (now deleted).
- MW*C 2013 Progress Report 1
- [MW*C 2018 Hotel Reservations Website http://www.mediawestcon.org/online-hotel-reservations.htm]; archived link.
- Comment posted in Barbara Staton's "I have a few questions for Lori and Gordon" dated June 11, 2012 (Barbara Staon's post on the official MW*C Facebook event page, dated June 11, 2013. The Event Page has since been deleted).
- Comments posted in to Deb Walsh's "OK We're 90 confirmed" dated June 11, 2012 (now deleted).
- The convention will pass on requests for "Physical Hardship" but stresses that such requests cannot be guaranteed. [MW*C 2018 Hotel Reservations Website http://www.mediawestcon.org/online-hotel-reservations.htm]; archived link
- The convention responded to this criticism by writing that: There are four other hotels .....within walking distance* .... *Yes, we realize “walking distance” is a relative term....” Source: MW*C 2016 Progress report 1.
- dated June 18 1995; link.
- letter sent by Randy Landers to the adzine GAZ dated April 1995.
- 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*Con Facebook thread dated June 6-7, 2012 and fromDianne 'greenwoman' Wickes "I Have Some Thoughts" post on Facebook dated June 7, 2012. During the debate the convention organizers actively moderated the Facebook discussions and eventually deleted the thread along with all comments.
- 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