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Suggestions for Improving News Coverage and the Spread of Information in the Leather Community

By Dusk Peterson

1) We can't count on the next crisis occurring in a city with a leather-friendly GLBT magazine. Nor can the leather community depend for its news on columnists and on the staff of general-interest leather e-zines, who aren't generally trained to cover news stories of this sort. The leather community is in desperate need of new print publications and Internet-based publications that provide regular news to the leather community. Money and staff for such publications are a perennial problem, but if the leather community is willing to support such important institutions as the Leather Archives & Museum and the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom, it should be able to do no less for organizations that provide quick, comprehensive, in-depth coverage of events that affect leatherfolk's lives.

2) For several years now, one of the biggest problems that the leather community has faced has been the declining number of leather publications that pay its editors, writers, artists, and photographers. As a result of this problem, many editors, writers, artists, and photographers who happen to be leatherfolk are now working only for vanilla publications. While this migration to paying publications is natural (the bills need to be paid somehow), these folks should consider the possibility of donating their skills to the leather community on occasion, as a form of service to the community.

3) National and regional leather organizations need to remember that, during an emergency, they will be among the few groups in a position to distribute news quickly and widely. Whoever's in charge of communications for the organization – Websites, e-mail lists, and newsletters – ought to be looking at ways to rapidly communicate news that is important to the group's members and to people who look to the group for leadership.

4) The days of depending primarily on news publications for news is past. While news publications will continue to play an important role because of their trained staff and their editorial supervision, more and more news in the future will come from non-journalists. The leather community is so small, and has so few journalists, that it can't afford to ignore the reality that most of its news comes from ordinary leatherfolk. What is important at this stage is figuring out how to get these individuals' news to everyone. Next to more news publications, the leather community's greatest need is an international blog or wiki where anyone can post news. 

5) Likewise, more nationwide bulletin boards, community blogs, and e-mail lists are needed, to remedy the present communications situation, in which nearly all boards, blogs, and lists are divided by region and subject matter. Directories of leather boards, blogs, e-mail lists, and Internet radio broadcasts (including podcasts) are also very much needed.

6) The amount of leather art and photography that was produced during the hurricane crisis was quite small. Why aren't artists and photographers documenting current events in the leather community?

7) More and more during the past decade or so, there has been a tendency to treat leather news and eroticism as separate categories that have nothing to do with each other. The small number of erotic leather works produced in relation to the hurricane crisis is a sad commentary on this divorce of mind and flesh. The leather community has long championed the belief that sexuality is something that cannot be totally separated from other aspects of life. Members of the leather community who provide news, commentary, and information on current events should keep that fact in mind.

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About the Author


True Tales Leather Journalism Awards 2005.

Copyright © 2005 Dusk Peterson. All rights reserved.
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