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AFTERBURN REPORT 2002

BLACK ROCK GAZETTE

The 2002 Black Rock Gazette was a triumph of will. A mixture of old and new Gazetteers came together and produced the most ambitious press run in Burning Man history. In addition to the four-page Gate Edition, five on-playa issues of the paper were produced. For the first time ever, Black Rock citizens were treated to an Exodus Edition of the paper that came out on Sunday featuring pictures of the Man burning.

At the end of 2001, the publisher of the Black Rock Gazette chose to step down after building the paper's infrastructure and serving the community well for three years. With a void in leadership, the initial reaction of the Burning Man Senior Staff was to allow this sometimes costly beast to expire. The staff felt that the immediacy of Burning Man Information Radio (BMIR) was more effective as a playa communication tool. Dozens of people expressed an interest in working on the paper, however, and the spring survey indicated a desire in the community that it continue. The paper drifted toward the Floating World like a rudderless ship without a captain, until the April 2002 Town Hall Meeting.

Relying on verbal volunteer commitments from many of the 2001 managing editors, reporters, photographers, and graphics department folks and encouraged by a burgeoning group of fresh volunteers, a new publisher launched the 2002 Black Rock Gazette at the Town Hall Meeting. After setting a significantly reduced proposed budget, our rag-tag team of Gazetteers gain the Senior Staff's nod to build our paper.

Our late start and lofty goals meant that we had to start fast. We elicited story ideas from the Burning Man staff and from the community at large. We revamped the website and secured our computers. In August 2002, we met, some of us for the first time, and put together the Gate Edition of the paper. We turned paper production into a slumber party.

On the playa, our challenges did not end. Who was setting up? Who was tearing down? Who was writing articles? Who was doing graphic design? What were we going to write about? The short answer boils down to a blend of the resources we thought we had before getting there and what rose out of the dust. We will never again discount the will of our Burning Family.

During Burning Man 2002, we had the privilege of bunking with Media Mecca in Center Camp. The marriage was a success! Not only did this union greatly assist us with operations, but it also enabled us to produce the paper for less than half of the previous year's budget. Not only did the paper survive, but it thrived!

There were many funny moments working in the air-conditioned splendor of our Gazette production trailers. For most of them, you kinda had to be there. Maybe in 2003, you will be.

Our Burning Spirit did not end on Labor Day. We continued to take on new volunteers after the event and produced the first-ever Blacktop Gazette for distribution at San Francisco Decompression. That issue provided four pages of stats, insights, advice, and very human stories. Many copies of the paper were shipped to the various regional groups in an effort to help make Burning Man a year-round thing. The Burning Spirit can stay alive all year.

In 2003, we hope to keep the same production schedule during Burning Man. In addition to the on-playa editions of the Black Rock Gazette, we will periodically produce editions of the Blacktop Gazette throughout the year as news and events dictate.

We're always looking for volunteers, either with or without newspaper experience. If you would like to learn more about Black Rock Gazette volunteer opportunities, go to http://www.burningman.com/participate/brc_gazette.html. If you have any story ideas, comments, or suggestions about the Gazette, send them to brgazette(at)burningman(dot)com.

Burn on!

Submitted by, Durgy
Black Rock Gazette Publisher 2002

Black Rock Gazettes
Blacktop Gazette

Click here to read the 2001 Black Rock Gazette report.