This could have been a good week. The IAWTV town hall meeting on Wednesday, the apocalypse on Thursday and an epic struggle for the future of the planet on Friday. How could anything go wrong? Well, it did.
The IAWTV town hall meeting was an opportunity to set a new agenda. Power struggles often create internal tensions that allow for solutions to come forward and in one moment of clarity the future becomes visible. The IAWTV Los Angeles town hall meeting by all accounts was not that moment.
What had been assumed by many in the community to be a struggle between a Wayne-Felicia coalition and the "Tubefilter guys" for the future direction of the IAWTV never materialized and the meeting was more like one of those firework rockets that fizzled but never leaves the bottle. What went wrong?
The Streamy Awards were held on April 11, 2010. What followed what many now describe as a "debacle" was a fairly vigorous debate but it mostly focussed on the Streamys and less the IAWTV. The hope was that the internal struggle within the Board of Directors of the IAWTV would now create the opportunity for quick and effective change.
Everyone knows that there needs to be drastic changes to the Board of the IAWTV and that was never more apparent than from what happened at the town hall meeting. Listening to your membership is one thing but they had weeks to do that and this seem more like a play for extra time for the status quo rather than a game changing move. That said, they did promise change in the future but the phrase "too little, too late" jumps to mind.
So how did this happen? On April 12, 2010 Wayne, as chairman of the IAWTV, wrote an open and frank "Letter from the Chair" which was really the first indication we had of discontent from within the relatively quiet Board of Directors of the IAWTV which seems to prefer to keep their operations behind closed doors. On around April 26, 2010 the TF guys countered with "Rebuild the Trust" which was an agenda that showed they had listened to critics and then came up with suggestions to appease the angry crowd but leave Tubefilter in ownership control of the Streamy Awards. This initiative found little support and their discussion board became a litany of unanswered questions; some going right to one of the core issues of how the IAWTV members were selected and more importantly why specific people were rejected for no apparent reason.
Then word of IAWTV town hall meetings began to surface and on May 3, 2010 a new 'Letter to the Membership" appeared on the IAWTV web site that talked about the role of the town hall meetings. What was less apparent was that this letter which was now signed by both Brady of Tubefilter and Wayne, the chairman of the IAWTV was not a new post, but rather an edit of the original post which appears to no longer exist. There are many, many links on blogs about the Streamys to a post that has been fundamentally changed. Talk about rewriting history!
Clearly something had changed but it would not become clear until the actual meeting what it was. The most likely scenario is that Wayne (and possibly a few other Board members) had probably struck a compromise deal with the TF guys behind closed doors and they are still working out "details" before bringing the plan to the full body of the IAWTV. Sure, there are mechanisms to give feedback but with the Rebuild The Trust discussion board being taken down members now have to use a discussion board on the IAWTV web site which is not viewable to the public. Anyone see the draw bridge being raised?
Is this how you, the web series community, want to see the IAWTV being run? Some members of the IAWTV probably support this direction because it seems like an easy path forward, but it is not. It is a path to revise the status quo with its core problems of conflict of interest and back room deals. Only with true structural reform can the "award show" be removed from the "ugly underbelly" of controversy that has in the past divided the community into "insiders with power," and "the rest of us." In a best case scenario groups like the IAWTV lend them self to accusations of bias and elitism and that is why the IAWTV and an award show it owns need to be set up with clear systems of checks and balances that prevent that from happening.
To prevent the draw bridge from being raised the community and the membership of the IAWTV really only have two options. The first is to accept the status quo. The second is to lay siege to the castle.
The second which seems like the sensible alternative is for the membership of the IAWTV to call for an immediate dissolution of the current Board of Directors of the IAWTV and a membership initiative to hold an extraordinary special election of a new Board of Directors for the IAWTV. This would clear the deck and allow for vigorous healthy growth into the future. Only once that Board is in place should they decide with their membership, and the community at large, how any award show will be run and hopefully the IAWTV would choose to own and operate its own show because that goes to the core of the problem. It is not that the Tubefilter guys are bad or have not worked hard. It is simply a matter of them having created the wrong structure and ensured its failure by forwarding an agenda that favored their own internal needs. The membership of the IAWTV and the community need to ensure that that mistake does not perpetuate itself and a special election would at least give their membership a clear and decisive voice.
The good news is that the rest of the week went well and the season finales of Supernatural and Smallville were both epic.
Other reactions to the IAWTV Town Hall Meeting
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