A Second Life for Journalism?


The Reporter Is Real, but the World He Covers Isn’t is an interesting article that appears in the New York Times today on Adam Pasick, left, a Reuters reporter on permanent assignment within the virtual worlds of Second Life.

This is not the first time I’ve flagged that journalism in online worlds such as Second Life are going to be developments in media that we need to carefully look for their implications for the future of journalism, but what makes this story most interesting is news that Reuters is the first mainstream wire news media organisation with a committed media presence in Second Life.

How is this going to play out with real world journalism? For instance, the news story here on experiments in economics and socio-political modelling in virtual communities has implications on real world applications of economic models and theories for development. How will the interplay between the virtual and the real play out in the years to come? Is Reuters going to be a serious competitor to other in-world newspapers such as The Metaverse Messenger?

And as I ask here, if the year-on-year exponential growth in MMORPG’s such as Second Life continues, the millions of those who inhabit the worlds of these games may create media that is only understood by fellow inhabitants – using new media (podcasts, blogs, mobile content etc) to communicate issues that are of relevance only to in-game communities, leading to a whole new dimension to media fragmentation. For instance, see Adam’s interview with Linden Lab CEO Philip Rosedale about how the social lending pioneed by the Bangladesh microfinance organization may one day work in Second Life.

What do you feel the implications for real world journalism are from this first foray into a permanent presence of a respected news agency in virtual worlds?

And for ICT4Peace, how can the reporting of virtual interactions help in framing real world issues? Can we envisage Second Life simulations of peace negotiations and conflict transformation that can help real world processes? How can the reporting of simulations help frame issues that would otherwise be too contentious to address?

The Reuters Second Life news portal is here. You can email Adam Pasick at adamreuters at gmail.com.

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