Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Nine Years of The Second Life Newser

It was nine years ago today that for four Second Life journalists, a chapter of their time online came to a close and a new one began. For quite some time, two and a half years in my case, we had been reporting the news about the virtual world as reporters of JamesT Juno's Second Life Newspaper. Under the guidence of the editor Dana Vanmoer, we reported on all aspects of the virtual world, both big and small, from the various people who made virtual lives here, to interesting places, to the noteworthy events, to the interesting things one could use here, and of course breaking news such as Linden Lab making changes here, notably some that didn't seem to make much sense.

Sadly, events in James' and Dana's real lives would make it so they could no longer run the SL Newspaper, and she would make the decision to close it. So for Gemma Cleanslate, Grey Lupindo, Shellie Sands, and me, Bixyl Shuftan, we made the decision to continue on under our own paper. As I was the old paper's Office Manager, the person whom had been posting articles when Dana couldn't, I would be the new newsletter's editor and owner. And so, on June 5, 2010, James and Dana held their farewell party, Dana making the old SL Newspaper's final statement that night. And on that date, I would announce the start of a new paper, the Second Life Newser.

Writing for a newsletter is one thing. Starting one, organizing it, and keeping it going is another. And from the start, we as a team were tested. A few days after our beginning, Linden Lab laid off a third of their staff. Not long afterwards, the most popular of the third-party viewers fell into scandal as one of the team misused his power to use the computers of their software's users to hack a rival. There was the resignation of Linden Lab's CEO followed by the return of it's founder Philip Rosedale for several months as interim. And of course the usual major events such as the Relay for Life and the Second Life Birthday.

While we certainly had our challenges, we've also had supporters. From the start, the Sunweaver community was happy to give us a home, notably Ranchan Weidman whom both provided the land and made an office for us. After a few months, Jacek Shuftan's (no relation) Podex Exchange became our first sponsor. And of course readers began looking to us as a source of reliable news as we updated daily. Before long, the Newser was the number one source of news of Second Life.

While we would always entertain, offering cartoons about twice a week, and soon have music videos about every week, first and foremost was doing what we had always done, provide the news larger and small about the people, places, events, and things around Second Life. Unlike a few certain tabloids, the Newser has never gone out of it's way to create controversy. What has happened is the rare troublemaker creating their own controversy, such as Redzone and Voodoo, and the occasional Linden blunder. But overall, we sought to make our coverage of the virtual world as mainly positive, to report it not as full of griefers, but as the enjoyable place where one can find all kinds of enjoyable sights, activities, and people that it is. Over time, we would expand somewhat to offer occassional gaming reviews and reports from other virtual worlds such as Inworldz. But Second Life has always remained our focus, and always will.

Sadly, over time we've had to say goodbye to some teammates and old friends. Shellie and later Gray would step down as real life demanded their time. Breezes Babii, our former coworker from the old SLN whom remained a friend and supporter would pass away. Our first sponsor Podex would close as Linden Lab changed it's Terms of Service to make their business impossible. But over time, we've had new talent come in, such as Deaflegacy, Klaus Klaus Bereznyak, Marcel Mosswood, and Cyfir. And of course Gemma and I have continued to stick around. And others have stepped forward to sponsor the paper.

So nine years later, where do we go from here? Despite Linden Lab's bumps, stumbles, and falls over the years, it's safe to assume that unless there's a catastrophe such as an economic depression or shutdown of the Internet, Second Life will be around for many years to come. And as long as events in real life stay smooth, we'll continue to report the news of the people, places, and events that this virtual world has to offer.

Special thanks to our sponsors, Farshore Radio, Lorena Chung, Montecito Bay, Steelhead, and the Sunweaver community that has been the home of our office for all these years, to Linden Lab which created this virtual world to begin with, to James and Dana to showing us the way in how to report the news here, and of course you the readers.

Bixyl Shuftan
Editor, Second Life Newser

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