Greetings Prospective Burnalists, 
We’re back for another year! The Black Rock Beacon — Burning Man’s source for news, views, photos, and, but of course, strained references to processed pork products — will be on the Playa this year.

Every year we have a rocking camp, we produce five Playa papers and a website, and, most importantly, Black Rock City likes us (you really like us). People are always stopping by to thank us for producing the paper (or maybe they are just attracted by the smell of cooking bacon). Anyway, it’s an exhilarating feeling.

Want to be a part of it in this year? We need reporters for our website as well as the Playa papers. Don’t wait until August — we have assignments that need to be researched and sometimes written in the default world.

But we’re more than just a bunch of writers. We also have leadership positions that must be filled each year. Outside of the news department, these include:

Operations Manager
Paginators (at least three)
Delivery People (squizillions)

See below for job descriptions.

In the news operation itself, we have several important job openings. Most of them do NOT require extensive newspaper experience, but what we really, really, really do need is for people who commit to doing them to follow through. It’s not like we can call a temp agency and have them send somebody along when you don’t show…

Managing Editor(s)
Day Editors
Assistant News Editors
City Desk Editors
Photo Wranglers
Copy Editors
Web Editor

Here are the descriptions of the news department jobs. The others are described below.


Managing Editor (one or two, or a Managing Editor and an Assistant Managing Editor):
A marquee job and a real chance to put your stamp on the Beacon. The Managing Editor(s) keep(s) the legendary Master List of Articles in Development, the assignments that turn into the articles that make the Beacon more than just yellowish paper with black dots all over it. The Managing Editor(z) work(z) with the reporters and writers to shape their assignments into terse, witty, porcine prose. This position, assuming a single Managing Editor, requires an average of four hours a week pre-Playa, scaling up from about one hour in the spring to ten or so as we prepare the first edition and for departure to the Playa. On-Playa, the Managing Editor could reasonably expect to work five hours a day.

Day Editors (four or five)
Supporting the Managing Editor(i), each Day Editor is responsible for one issue of the Beacon. While the Managing Editor(en) keep the MLAD, the Day Editors each maintain the daily assignment sheet, showing which items are slated to appear that day. The Day Editors also keep tabs on what was supposed to run and DIDN’T so that the next day’s Day Editor knows what was overheld. This position requires less than an hour of work each week pre-Playa and at least eight hours (during one day) on the Playa.

Assistant News Editors (two)
These are reporter/editor positions, reporting to our News Editor. One A.N.E. will be the point person for contacts with Law Enforcement and Media Mecca on the Playa. This person will make daily trips to the police enclave, to Media Mecca, and as needed to the Ranger stations and Medical tent to find out what is up. The other A.N.E. should be a San Francisco-based person who will cover developments in the Burning Man Organization. Think of it as walking through a Borg cube and hoping they don’t notice that you’re taking notes, which is more or less what you’ll be doing (but if you want to use a tricorder, you’ll have to get your own, and we are NOT paying for your Vulcan ear extensions). The A.N.E. for legal affairs will work about four hours a day on the Playa, with little pre-Playa obligation. The A.N.E. for Bmorg affairs will work two or three hours a week pre-Playa and a few hours on the Playa. While these editors will generate story ideas, they need not write all of the articles.

City Desk Editors (10-12 three-hour shifts)
A bit of a misnomer, our City Desk is the human face of the Black Rock Beacon. From the crack of dawn (say 11 a.m.) until deepest darkest night (5 p.m. or whenever they feel like leaving), the City Desk editors meet and greet Burners, hand them newspapers, collect their schwag and talk to people who come running up with story ideas. The latter role is important, as you have to decide if the person who says he just saw George Bush at Jiffy Lube is a lunatic or just an extortionist. Working with the Day Editor, the City Desk editors are the “front end” of the on-Playa editorial process. It’s a good way to get a feeling for the Beacon. Depending on where our camp is located, we might want to put a satellite City Desk at Center Camp or in the Cafe.

We’ll have a few photographer openings. Photogs scurry about the Playa, capturing images to go with our articles as well as those weird and wonderful bits of wild art that make Playa Life worth living. Note: only digital photos are acceptable. Where do you think you are? Time commitments vary.

Photo Wranglers (five shifts)
The wrangler dudes help the photogs get their pixels into our Motley Crue of Playamacs. You need to have a bit of computer savvy (and if you know Photoshop, so much the better). It’s about a five-hour commitment each day.

Illustrators. All photos are art but not all art is photos. We need one or two people who can do line drawings. If you think you should have a daily comic strip, convince us, maybe you will.

Copy Editors (two or three per day)
Copy Editors are our first line of defense against bad juju. Even though we’re at Black Rock City, libel laws still apply, so we need to read our stories over and make sure they’re fair and accurate (unless, of course, they refer to something that can be processed into bacon, in which case they only have to be accurate). A good job for people who like to write, hang out at newspapers, and who want to learn about the workings of the Beacon. It’s also not a bad way to get a feel for editing if you want to do it professionally. Shifts run from about one to five hours, mostly in the evenings.


We need at least three people to help lay out our newspaper. We use inDesign on System X Macs, so we’re primarily looking for people who know how to use that, though if you’re a whiz with Quark Express you can probably figure it out. This is a night job, as it starts at sundown and ends after midnight.

Delivery Specialists
As dawn breaks over Black Rock City, our Deliverance department brings the Beacon right into people’s tents. This is a great job if you like to get schwag. Positions are early morning, starting around dawn and more or less finished by 10:00.

Fund Raiser
Lastest but not leastest. This position is outside of the newspaper. This is our weakest link, staffingwise, and therefore the place where you could make the biggest difference. We need somebody who can go out and get us some money. There could be thousands of dollars of foundations grants with our name on them, but how will we know unless we look? The Fund Raiser will also devise gimmicks like our vaunted (if not particularly successful) Breakfast in Bed With a Playa Hottie raffle.

To apply for any of these jobs:
Join our Yahoo group or send an email to: questions@blackrockbeacon.org

8 thoughts on “Volunteer

  1. I’m interested in volunteering as a City Desk Editor for a couple of shifts. My time on the playa is spent mostly as a Temple Guardian but I am interested in the documentation of the going’s on, on the playa. I”ll be arriving early (though ETA is, as of yet, still undetermined) and leaving late, to assist with perimeter security for the Temple construction as well as Hushville Camp registration. Let me know if I can be of any assistance. Does it help or hinder that my camp mates have bequeathed unto me the monikers ‘Bacon Thief’, Goddess McGyver, and Good Gracious?

  2. Hi there!

    I am highly interested in helping out with the Black Rock Beacon, and might I say what a wonderful thing you’re bringing to the playa! My background is in communication and journalism, doing PR for non-profit music festivals and tech startups in the Seattle area. I was an avid participant in my college’s newspaper, and would love to be a part of your team in any capacity possible!



  3. Please pardon me, but I am unable to locate a place to submit information about myself and my qualifications for a reporter’s position with the paper this year. I have received the invitation from SMASH/Pam but could go no further. Aidez moi, bitte schoen y grazie!

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