Four Months After the Ben Shapiro Fiasco, Podcast Movement Has Updated Its "Code of Conduct"
PLUS: From Last Week's Issue, What I Meant By "Bananas"
Hey everyone — I was hoping to publish an interview today but it’s not finalized and now my subject is on vacation. After agonizing over whether to send it “as is,” I decided to follow my own advice from last week, and not rush something to print if it’s not ready.
So today’s issue is short — but mighty!
First, earlier this week I discovered that Podcast Movement has quietly updated its official Code of Conduct. This morning, I reached out to Podcast Movement President Dan Franks and he sent me the following statement:
When we launched the event in 2014, our goal was to put on events that educate, inform, and bring together podcasters and industry professionals to help podcasting as a whole. That goal remains the same, and we'll continue to do our best to help contribute to building a better tomorrow for the podcast industry
(If you’re new to The Squeeze, here’s why I’m following this story.)
So let’s take a look at Podcast Movement’s Code of Conduct prior to this change:
This strikes me as very “rules of a kindergarten classroom,” i.e., be nice and tell a teacher is someone is mean.
Here is the updated version:
Podcast Movement is committed to providing a welcoming and harassment-free environment. As such, we have written this code of conduct not because we expect bad behavior from our attendees, but because we believe one is necessary to building a respectful community space.
By participating at the event, you agree to abide by this Code of Conduct.
Be considerate in speech and actions, and actively seek to acknowledge and respect the boundaries of fellow attendees.
Willingness to coexist peacefully with opposing viewpoints, whether they be social, political, personal, or professional. In the words of the Django Code of Conduct: “Not all of us will agree all the time, but disagreement is no excuse for poor behavior and poor manners.”
If you feel that someone has harassed you or otherwise treated you inappropriately, please alert any member of the event team. Reports can be made in person or via the team phone/text line during in-person events, or via our mobile app or email at any time.
Take care of each other. Alert a member of the conference team if you notice a dangerous situation, someone in distress, or violations of this code of conduct, even if they seem inconsequential.
Unacceptable behaviors include intimidating, harassing, abusive, discriminatory, derogatory, or demeaning words or actions by any attendees of the event and related event activities.
Harassment includes but is not limited to: derogatory comments or personal attacks (verbal, written, or otherwise) related to gender and/or gender identity, sexual orientation, race, religion, appearance, or ability.
Sharing and/or displaying material of the nature above
Unwelcome following and/or stalking with intent to engage another attendee, for any reason
Unwelcome photography or recording of another attendee
Unwelcome physical contact of any kind
Unwelcome sexual comments, jokes, and/or attention toward or about another attendee
Intentional disruption of talks or other conference events (verbal or otherwise)
Unlawful conduct such as disturbing the peace or use of illegal substances
Failure to obey any rules or regulations of the conference Venue.
CONSEQUENCES OF UNACCEPTABLE BEHAVIOR
Unacceptable behavior will not be tolerated. If a participant engages in unacceptable behavior, the conference organizers may take any action they deem appropriate. This includes expulsion from the conference without warning or refund. If necessary, Venue security will be contacted.
Podcast Movement attendees are encouraged to post on social media during the event. However, please keep this statement from Theorizing the Web in mind: “What is said online is just as ‘real’ as what is said verbally.”
The above Code of Conduct is widely applicable to social media behavior, namely harassment. Malicious targeting of another person will not be tolerated, and reported violations may result in expulsion from the conference.
If you experience online threats or harassment as defined in this Code of Conduct during the event, please contact a member of the conference team.
Podcasting represents all kinds of social and political viewpoints, as do companies and organizations in the podcast space. Podcast Movement is sponsored by a range of companies, not all of which are aligned on every issue. Sponsors (all are listed on the event website) as well as attendees are bound by the same Code of Conduct during the event. While all are welcome to voice concerns to Podcast Movement leadership, willingness to coexist peacefully amidst ideological differences is part of every large industry conference.
If you would like to make any reports, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can contact us before, during, and after Podcast Movement events if you see or experience an issue. In addition, during an event you can DM any staff member on the event’s mobile app.
During in-person Podcast Movement events, we will also publicize a contact email and phone number, and point out event staff in matching t-shirts so you know who to contact if you see or experience an issue.
We welcome your feedback on this and every other aspect of our events, and we thank you for working with us to make them a safe, enjoyable, and friendly experience for everyone who participates.
This code of conduct covers the entirety of any Podcast Movement event.
So — Podcast Movement is keeping the community open to all and we should expect that that includes Ben Shapiro and any other douchebags who care to attend. However, the organization is placing stricter guardrails in place, in case an emergency arises. I have some mixed feelings about this revised version — for example, while I’m glad that there are now clearer guidelines regarding behavior on social media, I’m not sure how this protects someone if they’re attacked by a swarm of Ben Shapiro trolls (or anyone’s trolls, for that matter)? In any event, I’m relieved that Podcast Movement has finally made itself clear. Now that we know where the organization stands, we can make individual decisions about whether the new Code of Conduct feels like enough.
I do have one bit of insider goss, which is that a source tells me that Podcast Movement hasn’t had any contact with The Daily Wire since the debacle last year; in fact, a rumored meeting between the two parties never happened and nothing else was planned in its stead. So it’s unlikely that we’ll have a repeat of August at March event.
Recently — and before I was aware of Podcast Movement’s updated guidelines — a friend in the LGBTQIA community who happens to be well-versed in Ben Shapiro’s way of doing things shared his opinion on Podcast Movement’s dilemma with me:
If they ban him, they’ll empower him. Then you’re giving him something to be mad about. If everyone had just ignored him and his sad little booth in the corner, it would have been much more effective. When you make a big deal about it, you’re giving him the room to grandstand, you know?
Just ignore the asshole.
Words to live by!
So what do you think?
Will you attend Podcast Movement going forward?
Do you think Podcast Movement has made a grave mistake?
Share your thoughts by clicking this button:
One more thing —
In last week’s issue on Podcast Magazine, I referred to Steve Olsher’s business model as “totally bananas.” A reader pointed out that leveraging content as a customer acquisition tool isn’t bananas at all:
You described his business model as "totally bananas" — but I'm not seeing all the bananas. Yes, sure, it wasn't especially well executed, but Steve's model was basic content marketing. He understood that media builds authority and trust, and that you can then monetize that authority and trust by driving people to products and services — and, hell, as I'm sure we both know from our time in media, monetizing products and services can be a lot easier than monetizing content all by itself! It's not all that different from the bazillion business coaches I meet who launch podcasts... not for the purpose of creating a pure editorial product, but because it a) enables them to call people up and ask them for interviews, and then start building a larger relationship with them, and b) it's really just a lead gen for people to buy their coaching services. From where I sit in the world of entrepreneurs, that's the primary reason they launch podcasts. I'd be willing to bet a substantial percentage of podcasts follow this model, and that's not something I often see acknowledged or engaged with in broader podcast coverage.
I am really grateful for this reader’s email because it helped me see that I wasn’t clear about why I described Olsher’s business model as bananas. What I take issue with is Olsher’s implementation of this model. Here’s why:
1) Olsher didn’t take the time to build any trust or credibility before arriving on the scene with products and services he wanted people to buy (early stage Luminary vibes, am I right?). As Olsher said during our interview, it was less than 100 days from idea to launch. Building trust takes time.
2) Olsher’s approach to “marketing” was to send subscribers relentless amounts of spammy-looking email to an audience that is relatively tech-savvy and spam-averse. We are the people who invented the “host-read ad,” for Chrissakes! Our bullshit sensors are off the chain.
3) Finally, producing a beautiful, glossy publication and depending on readers to fund the thing (no sales team, no investors, no backup plan) is wholly different from producing a podcast and hoping it’ll entice listeners to come to you for business reasons. In my view, you can’t compare these two very different implementations.
On that note, if you are someone who has used your podcast to create a customer base, I’d love to hear from you. Hit reply on this email and tell me how your podcast helps funnel customers (of a different product or service) your way. Perhaps that could be an interesting story.
That’s it for me this week! I’ll see you when I have something to share that’s worth your time.
This is fucking cool.
I see a lot of people in these comments say that we should be open to diversity and not corner ourselves off and on principle I agree. But I draw a line at people who happily, regularly argue that me, my friends and family members do not deserve certain human rights or calls us quite horrible things.
Political disagreements are one thing and I am happy to share spaces with people who are at the opposite end of the spectrum. I will discuss fiscal policies or political philosophies any day. But the moment my opponent stops to acknowledge the humanity of all human beings, we are done.
The last couple of years has shown that we have to draw lines to protect what is important in this life. One of them is that I do not share spaces with people who do not play by some basic rules.
If you call trans people mentally ill just for existing, then I am totally cool with you being excluded from events. Not because I do not want to acknowledge that other points of view exist, but because I think that some opinions do not deserve to be treated as valid and normal. Because they are not.
To me this sound like a perfectly well thought out response from PM. I was afraid that they'd buckle to pressure & start censoring the type of podcasters they'll allow to attend based of the viewpoints expressed by the host.
"willingness to coexist peacefully amidst ideological differences is part of every large industry conference." I feel this attitude is in keeping with the first amendment . A freedom that all of us as podcasters in this country could do with remembering.
While I wasn't planning on attending PM this year for financial reasons, I want to more than ever to show my support fo this decision.