Monday, June 9, 2014

Four Years

It was four years ago this week, June 2010, in which the crew of Second Life Newspaper faced a transition. Second Life's leading newspaper, JamesT Juno and Dana Vanmoer's Second Life Newspaper was closing down. Although the paper had suffered a serious blow several months earlier with a sponsor going bankrupt, it was James and Dana's real life troubles that led them to make the decision to close the paper down a few months earlier. When the decision was revealed to us in a staff meeting, we couldn't believe it. Our first question was did they really have to leave Second Life, and the paper? The second was, why couldn't someone else be put in charge of Second Life Newspaper? But the decision was final. The paper would be put down.

So what to do? We talked among ourselves, and decided there was only one thing we could do. We'd have to start all over again under a new name. And so when Second Life Newspaper closed, Second Life Newser was born.

We didn't have time to relax. Almost soon as we started, it was one of Second Life's most eventful times. Linden Lab laid off a third of it's staff, and it's CEO resigned, with Philip Linden temporarily returning. Then came "Emeraldgate," with the downfall of it's first third-party viewer development team. Then came Linden Lab's decision to merge Second Life with it's Teen Grid, followed by them getting rid of their support for educational sims after years of promoting them as examples of what the Grid could be. It was one of Second Life's most difficult years, and the Newser was there to bring the news to it's readers.

Since then, Second Life has continued to prove itself as a reliable source of news for its residents. We have continued to update every single day, informing about the people, places, and events across the Grid. We've written about many different kinds of places from clubs to memorials to churches to playgrounds to builds of historic real-life places to whatever imagination can come up with. We've talked to many different people from media producers large and small to sim designers, content creators, charity organizers, musicians both popular and starting out, and regular Joe and Jane Residents. And we've covered many different events from weddings, funerals, battles, races, charity events, anniversaries from small clubs to Second Life's SLBs, and many more. And there's the twice a week cartoons which appeal to both residents and those who never step into the world. Over 3500 articles, press releases, cartoons, advertisements, and more have been posted in the past four years.

Some friends have been with us since the beginning. At the newsletter's start, the Sunweaver Estates (now the Sunweaver/Angel Estates) provided us with land and an office. And along the way, we've picked up some new ones as the Podex Exchange, and then the Steelhead community have offered to sponsor us. Without them, the paper would be spending less time covering the news and more scrounging for ad revenue. And we've had some new writers join the team over time. Writers like DrFran Babcock and Nydia Tungsten have proven themselves time and time again.

And readership has grown over time from just over 2000 readers for the month of June 2010 to over 25,000 three years later in June 2013 durring coverage of Second Life's tenth anniversary. Our readership includes places like Ukraine, Turkey, Indonesia, and China.

Sadly we've had to say goodbye to some faces as well. Some of the team have had to stop writing as real life caught up to them. We salute them for the time while they were here.

As time has gone by, we have covered a little more than just Second Life. As attention went to other virtual worlds, such asInWorldz, we covered them some. We've also reviewed some of the games residents like to play when not on Second Life, "World of Warcraft" being a longtime favorite. But most of our articles will continue to be about this virtual world.

On occasion, we've had to hold Linden Lab's feet to the fire. Yes, we're grateful for them for creating this virtual world. But over time they've made a number of questionable policies that have hurt this place by eroding the morale of builders and common residents alike. And when we see a blunder of theirs, we call them out on it. While this may mean getting the cold shoulder from the Lab, we're not here to kiss up to them. We "call it as we see it," and report the news as we, and you the readers, see fit.

So what has this meant to me personally? Well, in real life, this has been my best success as a writer. Friends and coworkers don't always understand what I write about, though still admire the effort (and enjoy the cartoons). My Father, whom thought I was wasting time on video games as a kid, "Are you going to put on your job application you shot down a million ships from the Planet Mongo?" has been more impressed with the stories of memorial events for Veterans here, in addition to one writer whom ended up using me as a real-life job reference.

Keeping up a daily newsletter has proved to be a challenge. Even if on the weekends all we put is a video we find or a screenshot cartoon, still, articles have to be written, news needs to be covered. We've burned our share of midnight oil. But this is what we do. It's our pleasure to cover the news, even if it means doubling down on the caffeine the next morning.

And the future? As long as the Newser team is around, we'll continue to report about the people, places, and events across Second Life.

Thank you to the Sunweaver Estates whom have given us a home inworld.

Thank you to our sponsors, Podex and Steelhead, for funding our coverage.

And of course a special thanks to you the readers, without whom there would be no newsletter.

Bixyl Shuftan and the Second Life Newser team

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