BURNING MAN PRESS FAQ
- Can I get a press kit?
- Do members of the press have to buy tickets?
- Do I have to pay the in-and-out fee if I stay in town?
- Will my cell phone work? I have to call my boss.
- Can I attend for one day?
- Where do I go when I get there?
- What sort of press facilities, i.e. satellite hookup, phone lines, press rooms, etc. are available on the desert?
- Do I need credentials to film or photograph onsite?
- I want to interview Larry Harvey. Who do I talk to?
- How can I keep updated on the latest news regarding Burning Man?
- Will there be a schedule of events?
- Any idea on the international makeup of those attending?
- What is the essence of the event? What makes it all work?
- I'm getting the whole "Participate" concept. Does this mean that, as a member of the media, I'm likely to experience some resistance?
- Who can help me with questions regarding logistics before the event?
Q. Can I get a press kit?
A. We do not have hard-copy press kits to distribute. We're trying to cut down on paper use. The best sources of information are on the Press Here Section of the website: Virtual Press Kit, the First Timers' Guide and this FAQ. Please read as much of the rest of the site as you can. The Survival Guide is “required reading” for all participants. You’ll want to read the Survival Guide cover to cover. Media Team staffers are always available to answer any questions after you arrive but part of coming to Burning Man means practicing Radical Self Reliance. You’ll have a great experience if you come prepared.
Q. Do members of the press have to buy tickets?
A. Yes. The main premise of Burning Man is "Participate." That includes members of the press. Everyone who attends the event is required to purchase a ticket. Of course, a receipt for reimbursement by your employer will be included with your ticket.
Many changes to the ticket process have been instituted in 2012. More detailed information is found on the Tickets Page. Check back frequently for updates.
Q. Do I have to pay the in-and-out fee if I stay in town?
A. We discourage covering the event from the safety of a hotel room. Your experience in Black Rock City will make your story uniquely personal. Besides, the nearest hotel rooms are more than two hours away in Reno. Add to that the in-and-out fee you'll be charged, and traffic lines on the two-lane highway to the event. It's a lot cheaper to camp with all the other participants, and you'll never get the full story unless you do.
Q. Can I attend for one day?
A. Yes, you can. Will you get a good story? Probably not. Will you get an interview with our staff? Nope. You're already going to have to buy a ticket; why not spend a few days experiencing Black Rock City? The best writing about Burning Man comes from immersing yourself in the experience---from helping your neighbors build their camps, to taking part in spontaneous art, to visiting the Temple. If you don't believe us, take a look at some of the press coverage we've collected from reporters who've been there and lived to tell. If your editor tells you, "Don't come back without an interview with Larry Harvey," you will want to get out to the desert by at least Wednesday of the event. Even then, Larry Harvey does only a handful of interviews a year. The more unique and compelling your angle of approach, the more likely you will be to get an interview. Show us that you're committed to a story, and we'll do our best to get you the interviews you need.
Q. Will my cell phone work? I have to call my boss.
A. In recent years, independent cell phone providers have taken it upon themselves to set up cell towers nearby Black Rock City. While some participants have been able to use their cell phones in Black Rock City, cell phone coverage is highly unreliable. Plus, it is not really very culturally acceptable to talk on your cell phone in “public” in Black Rock City so if you do get a cell signal, please handle your calls in private.
Satellite phones will work, so you might consider bringing one if your story truly requires it. We do not provide them. If you absolutely need to phone in a story, but you don't have access to a satellite phone, expect to pay an in-and-out fee and spend at least an hour driving to stand in line to use the pay phone in Gerlach. We will, however, probably have Internet connectivity if you need to file remotely -- bring a laptop -- but we cannot guarantee the connection will be reliable and available when you need it. This is the desert.
Q. Where do I go when I get there?
A. Tell the Greeters that you're with the media and that you're looking for Media Mecca. We're located in Center Camp on the 9 o’clock ring. We'll check you in, offer you a frosty beverage and then kick you out to go find your story. And yes, Media Mecca is always there for you when you need a shady place to take a break when the temperature tops 100 degrees, which usually happens about 10AM.).
Q. What sort of press facilities (i.e. satellite hookup, phone lines, press rooms, etc.) are available on the desert?
A. Think "Lawrence of Arabia". Think “Dune”. Think surface of the moon. The nearest town, Gerlach, is 12 miles away, and we do not encourage commuting on the two-lane highway.
Media Mecca is available from 9AM-ish to 5PM-ish and staffed by volunteers who spend the other 51 weeks of the year working as photographers, journalists, PR flacks, documentarians, rock stars, web designers, IT managers and anthropologists. Check in early and often. We're there to help get you oriented, situated and motivated to get out and get your story.
Media Mecca is a place to find out what's going on, file a story, recharge your camera batteries and meet up with artists and organizers. And, like the majority of our national parks, it's for day use only. If you're looking for a place to camp and don't know anyone else, we can probably find someone for you to hook up with. We know plenty of people who will leave a light on for you, and some members of the media choose to camp together.
The Black Rock desert is a harsh environment. Electricity to charge your gear is available, but we cannot guarantee we won't suffer outages, and the safety of your sensitive equipment remains your own responsibility. Please consider bringing your own generator or inverters for charging computers and camera batteries. If you are bringing a satellite truck and/or have other special electrical needs, let us know ahead of time and we'll see what we can do.
Internet connectivity for uploading your story will sometimes be available, but -- and this is important -- we cannot guarantee it will be up and running right when you need it. The network is provided by participants and is subject to outages and other weirdness -- it is, after all, an improbable wireless cloud in the middle of a barren desert. Media Mecca is a 100% "Whining About the Internet"-free zone. We don't provide it, we can't guarantee it, and we just can't do anything about it if it goes down right when you're filing on deadline, so yelling won't help. While it is usually trouble-free, it does burp from time to time. We ask you to please be patient and plan accordingly, and warn your editor that the connection is spotty.
To sum up: there's no cell phone coverage, but satellite phones do work, if you bring one. The participant-provided wireless cloud over Center Camp is usually up, but not always. The nearest pay phone is in Gerlach.
Q. Do I need credentials to film or photograph onsite?
A. Your traditional press credentials will not grant you access to Burning Man. You will need to register with us to request written permission to photograph, film, or videotape. We do not grant permission to all members of the press and review proposals throughout the Spring and Summer on a rolling basis, so apply early.
Registering before the event gives us a chance to find out what you're interested in and help you hook up with the people you want ahead of time, and when you're onsite. We're not here to tell you what to write.
We ask photographers and videographers to share with us copies of their work. We add all contributions to our historical archive. Images and video from Burning Man are periodically used to produce art shows, shown at San Francisco-based and international Regional events, posted on the web site, and used in the newsletter. This is our way of asking you to share your work with the community that made it possible.
We frequently get requests from publications and television shows for pictures and footage. We refer requests directly to photographers and videographers who have submitted imagery to us. They are then free to negotiate usage fees as they see fit. We will not share your images for any use without contacting you.
The fine print on the ticket reads, "The commercial use of photographs, video, film or any other medium taken at Burning Man is prohibited without permission of Burning Man." Use of the ticket constitutes acceptance of these terms. "Burning Man" and "Black Rock City" (as well as "Decompression") are protected trademarks of the Burning Man Project, and their commercial use requires specific written permission. Commercial video and film crews will be asked to sign a site-usage agreement, which includes the stipulation that 10 percent of your proceeds will be given to Burning Man should you obtain the organization's permission to sell your footage commercially. News crews with non-commercial intent, and previous permission from Burning Man, are exempted so long as their footage is USED within two weeks of the event; all other uses require additional permission. All others will be asked to comply.
In addition, commercial projects are asked to include the Burning Man website address and hotline phone number in their credits: www.burningman.com and 415-TO-FLAME.
Q. I want to interview Larry Harvey. Who do I talk to?
A. Interviews with Larry Harvey are available only in limited cases -- our staff are very busy during the event, and we try to prevent them spending time answering the same questions over and over again each year. If you're not on site by Wednesday, your chances of getting an interview with Larry Harvey are extremely slim. Because we grant only a handful of interviews during the event, we produce a Media Panel at the event for select members of the press. The panelists are high level Burning Man staff members who can answer your burning questions.
If you're planning on writing a story that runs before the event, email us at Press(at)BurningMan(dot)com or call us at 415-TO-FLAME. Most event organizers head to the desert several weeks before the event and we need to schedule interviews accordingly.
Q. How can I keep updated on the latest news regarding Burning Man?
A. Subscribe to the "Jack Rabbit Speaks" email list by sending an email with the word "subscribe" in the body of the message to: bman-announce-subscribe. It is the most important way to keep up with information about this year's event. You should also spend as much time as possible exploring the many pages of the Burning Man website.
Q. Will there be a schedule of events?
A. Yes. A list of events will be included in the Playa Calendar and on the website. Burning Man doesn't organize the events and happenings – they're all participant-driven. Artists and performers will post their events before heading out to the desert, and you'll receive an events program called the "What Where When", when you arrive on site. Be aware, though, that there are as many unscheduled, spontaneous events as there are people in Black Rock City.
Q. Any idea on the international makeup of those attending?
A. We typically have participants from all 50 states and just about every corner of the planet. While once the majority of participants came from California and Nevada, we now enjoy a growing participation from the world over. We haven't systematically recorded demographics, but the trend toward international participation has been growing each year. Visit our Regional Network site to see what Burners are doing year-round in all corners of the world.
Q. So, what’s Burning Man all about? What makes it all work?
A. The best answer to this question is "come and figure it out yourself." Personal experience is essential to the nature of the event.
Burning Man is about coming together in a beautiful, yet unforgiving environment to celebrate radical self-expression. It offers a fully participatory creative experience. Burning Man works because of the strong sense of community, radical inclusion and personal freedom that each Black Rock City citizen practices.
Burning Man is also driven by Volunteerism. Black Rock City is only possible thanks to the widespread participation of the thousands of Black Rock citizens who help plan, develop and maintain the infrastructure of this desert city.
Q. I'm getting the whole "Participate" concept. Does this mean that, as a member of the media, I'm likely to experience some resistance?
A. This will generally happen only if you disrespect other participants. Burning Man advocates a simple ethic: "Don't interfere with anyone's immediate experience." Over the years, we have begun tagging media cameras. The camera tagging provides participants with a reassurance that the media have checked in with the Media Mecca and have been briefed on what's expected of them when photographing or filming other participants.
In 1997 several members of the media abused their privileges. Some participants complained. Others took matters into their own hands. In 1998, when we began tagging media still and video cameras, complaints dropped to almost zero.
Please ask permission for photographs whenever possible and carry your own model releases. All participants appreciate this courtesy, and most of them are happy to consent. You will be forever canonized if you are able to share your email address or phone info with those who would like a copy of their image or a picture of their artwork. Many magnificently-costumed individuals spend so much time getting ready that they forget to snap a photo of their ensemble. Your documentation of the event is important to the archive and to everyone in BRC. In order to use images commercially, you will want to acquire written releases from your subjects' whenever possible.
You will enhance your interaction with others if you think about how you can participate and offer something to the community. Bring a costume, funny hat, or body paint. Become your alter ego, or spoof the media itself. Bring something fun to give away (non-commercial, of course). A bag of treats to share goes a long way. Better yet, make something with your own hands, or lend someone a hand with a project. Personalize your interactions with people. They will be more willing to speak with you and will tell their story more readily if you make the effort to connect with them first.
Join a theme camp or village. Volunteer. Perform. Cook dinner for your neighbors. Build art. If you're interested in helping, the Media Mecca team can put you in touch with the right people. Bottom line: Express yourself in your uniquely personal way. You'll meet extremely interesting people and you'll feel more like a part of the community and less like an outsider.
To learn more, check out the Participate section of the website.
Q. Who can help me with questions regarding logistics before the event?
A. Once you submit your press registration, one of our Media Team Press volunteers will get in touch with you to introduce themselves and to offer you their sage wisdom and advice about covering Burning Man. They are also available to answer your pre-event logistical questions and connect you to various resources and groups before you arrive in Black Rock City.
For urgent requests, Call the press hotline and leave us a message. The number is 415-TO-FLAME, or contact us via email at Press(at)BurningMan(dot)com.
See you on the playa!