So the part about not liveblogging the Edgars..

…may still be true, or it may not. There’s a new edict handed down by the MWA Board:


Writers of America (MWA) requests

that cell phones, cameras and all other electronic devices of attendees

be turned off during

the 2007 Edgar® Banquet.   Additionally, MWA requests that attendees

refrain from any live

blogging throughout the course of the Banquet. We hope that all in

attendance will

comply with these requests. The Edgar Award winners will be announced

to the membership of MWA at 10:00PM EDT followed by a press release

over PR Newswire at 10:05PM.  Thank you.

From my own standpoint, I’m happy to comply. Means I can actually focus on watching what happens on stage, mingling with the crowd, talking to my friends, that sort of thing.

On principle, however, this so-called “edict” is not only ludicrous, but without any precedent in the book world. The National Book Critics Circle has no such embargo. Neither do the much-maligned Quills, which is broadcast at a later date and an embargo would be pointless. And as for the National Book Awards, where journalists camp out in the press box to write up their missives, there is no embargo and never has been. Even when Stephen King made his speech a few years back.

And I must also point out this: why on earth did it take so long for the MWA to come up with this stance, barely 36 hours before the awards ceremony? If you’re going to play in the majors, then you must also anticipate any and all possible forms of technological communications within the ceremony at least several months in advance and not react after a somewhat high-spirited writer and blogger figures out how to use her Twitter account for what was supposed to be an informative and entertaining cause (one, I might add, that has precedent.) And short of scary-looking security guards going around to each and every table and physically taking phones, blackberries and other devices out of each and every attendee’s hands, I’m not sure how this missive can even be properly enforced.

Do I understand where MWA’s coming from? Absolutely. Because of King’s presence, the organization felt that security must be tighter, media blitzes must increase (leading to, among other things, a nice piece by Dick Donahue in today’s PW Daily) and awareness of the importance of the Edgars must be broadened. All good things. But once again, we’re in a situation that’s reactive (and embarrassingly so) instead of proactive, one that doesn’t recognize how communication ability far exceeds that of embargos. Which is kind of a shame.