Thursday, April 7, 2011

Leather Media 2.0

(Published in Lavender Magazine, Issue #414, April 7, 2011)

In 1995, when Lavender Magazine (and this column) began, the leather community’s media landscape was much different than it is today. For starters, leather media were almost exclusively print. Drummer Magazine was the gay male leather community’s iconic publication, and Mister Marcus Hernandez’ leather column in San Francisco’s Bay Area Reporter also was widely read. Other publications catering to the leather community included International Leatherman and The Leather Journal.

Shortly after this column began, leather came to the recently-invented World Wide Web when Joe Gallagher started, which collected a variety of leather-community writing (including your humble columnist’s) in one place.

In 2011, Lavender and this column are still here, and The Leather Journal is still publishing. Everything else mentioned above is gone.

What has replaced them? Instigator Magazine has assumed the mantle once held by Drummer, and is an online source for leather news and opinion. Otherwise, leather/BDSM/fetish media have changed along the lines of other media. You’ll find plenty of leather on Facebook if you know the right people, and, which revolves around fetish, has become “the kinky Facebook.” There are more blogs, podcasts and websites than one person can hope to experience in a lifetime. For hooking up there are and many other sites.

This new leather-media landscape is both more and less than existed in 1995. There’s much more information flowing, in many more forms, produced by many more people. So much more information, however, leads to less focus and, too often, less quality. As with the rest of modern media, we are all swimming in more data than ever, but it has become more difficult to pluck from the data stream the information of the best quality and the most relevance.

Magazines have professional editors, writers and designers. We trust editors to “edit” the barrage of information and select the most important and relevant stuff. Editors assign professional writers to present the information clearly, while professional designers package the information in an attractive and easy-to-read format.

Today, too often these functions go unfilled. Blogs and websites allow anyone to be a writer and designer—whether or not they actually know how to write or design. And the profusion of available information too often means we all have to be our own editors.

So, since you’re reading this, thank you for editing your media diet to include Lavender and this column.