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October 17, 2006

Reuters Bureau in Second Life

Here at C3, one of our major research focuses has been online spaces and gaming spaces that allow for new engagement opportunity, not the least of which is Second Life. For instance, one of our affiliated research members here at C3--Ilya Vedrashko--spent more time in his second life than his first life these past few months while wrapping up his thesis worker for his Master's degree here at MIT.

But we've also focused a lot here on journalism, which makes the new Reuters announcement even more intriguing. For those who may not have heard, Reuters has opened up its own bureau within the online gaming space of Second Life, bringing coverage of real-world events into Second Life but also covering the people and stories in Second Life as well.

Currently, the top story from Reuter's Second Life News Center focuses on the U.S. congressional committee's discussion of online taxation for transactions that take place within virtual worlds like Second Life. But news also includes information from the CEO of Linden Labs, the creator of Second Life; various Reuters videos from Second Life, and stories covering issues throughout the Second Life world.

There are also a number of Second Life blogs that are linked to, as well as a link directly to Reuter's site within the game.

This virtual bureau is run by Adam Reuters, who is actually veteran tech journalist Adam Pasick--he has a calendar with regular hours that his online bureau is open.

In yesterday's New York Times, Andrew Adam Newman wrote about this phenomenon, which caught many in the journalism world by surprise. He quotes Pasick as saying, "It's not any different than when Reuters opens up a bureau in a part of the world that has a fast-growing economy that we weren't in before. The laws of supply and demand hold true, it has a currency exchange, people open businesses and get paid for goods and services."

Reuter's CEO says that, this "shows Reuters has a certain with-it-ness." While that statement may put its cool factor in jeopardy, his point isn't completely off-base, and it's an interesting experiment to retain the validity of a traditional trusted news source. It will be interesting to see what type of content Reuters' online bureau focuses on and whether it develops a reputation as being a serious source of news within Second Life or simply a fun extension--the questions will be what this virtual bureau means for quality journalism and what it means for the brand of a traditional journalism source.

We will see.

Thanks to Margaret Wiegel for passing information along.

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