Second Life and the Fourth Estate

Adam Reuters and copyright violations.

We aren’t doing this not to be noticed.

This stuff, what I’m doing at this moment. Writing. Online. Not me, not Kirk or Kassia or Jim or Roxanne or anyone else in Team Loper’s extended tail. We want to be seen. This is not to say that we aren’t doing it for the love of the words, or because we aren’t genuinely interested in the culture on which we report. Those things are all true.

But we aren’t exactly anonymous, either. All of us want to be recognized to as writers (though I suspect we all know better than to adopt such a lofty title based on blogging). We have bylines because we want you, dear Loperfan, to know who said what, and so we can get that thrill of me! i wrote that! while cringing at all the typos we didn’t catch before going live. I’m one of the worst, both in typos and because I haven’t been able to breach the ego barrier and simply use my first name. Heavens no. That’s not good enough. Has to say “Sherilyn Connelly,” lest someone think Sherilyn Fenn wrote it. (I see Roxanne also keeps the Irish surname visible. Power, sister-in-law!)

Now, nobody gets into writing just to be famous. There are many easier, more profitable and far sexier ways to do it. But it’s certainly one of the incentives, something that gets us off our duffs and…er, well, back onto our duffs in front of the keyboard.

I’d wager the same holds true for Adam Reuters, who is…

…Reuters’ bureau chief in Second Life.

In real life, he is Adam Pasick, a veteran tech and media journalist.

All of this displayed quite prominently on the front page of the Reuters Second Life News Center. There’s even a big honkin’ picture of Adam-the-Avatar, taking up 158 pixels in one direction and 187 in another. It’s quite a lot of real estate to devote to the make-believe alter ego of the reporter, and I’d imagine that Pasick is quite happy it’s there. He probably even required it as part of taking on the gig, so his real name (and career) wouldn’t get buried underneath the stunt. Whatever one’s reservations about corporate culture may be, you gotta admit that the use of company names as Second Life surnames is a stroke of branding genius. Not that I’ll be writing as Sherilyn Medialoper anytime soon, though, or even if my not-quite-SFW day job establishes a Second Life presence, Sherilyn Nakedsword.

Anyway, the chiefs of such meatspace bureaus as Business and Investing don’t get similar writeups, above the fold or otherwise. But those while those topics are about real things and directly affect the real world, they’re nowhere near as hip, nor (dare I say it?) (I dare say it!) sexy as covering a make-believe world. More importantly, Reuters has nothing to prove. That they’re covering the machinations of men and money is well-known, established, and perhaps even a tad boring.

Boring or not, at least, those departments are prominently linked from the main Reuters page, whereas Pasick’s bureau isn’t. Prominently, or otherwise. If they wanted to treat Second Life as a real place—and they must if it gets its own bureau, right?—then it should at least be down at the bottom in the International Editions row, but, nope. Hell, it isn’t even in the Site Map, which annoys the SEO nerd in me. Bird Flu made the cut, but Second Life didn’t. It isn’t even linked from the Internet or technology pages. Man. That’s gotta sting. It’s a wonder the avatar doesn’t have red hair.

Perhaps Reuters hasn’t figured out where to put their Second Life bureau because they don’t know yet just what it is. For me, the disconnect comes from the fact that Pasick does very little reporting on matters within Second Life. Most of his stories are about the intersection of Second Life with meatspace, such as whether or not Linden Lab is for sale, an analysis of Second Life hype, Warren Ellis writing a column about Second Life (damn, I wish I’d thought of that!), or, my personal favorite, media darling Anshe Chung getting persnickety at sites carrying images of the the flying penii incident, invoking Lopey’s favorite boogeyman, copyright. Remember when patriotism and prayer were the last refuges of the scoundrel? Those were the days.

Then again, what the hell else is Pasick going to report on? Ginormous furries and such? No need, since the Second Life Herald covers that angle quite nicely. The angle that the Adam Reuters covers is a bit more vague. Zeitgeist, maybe. Pity his bosses at Reuters don’t want anyone to know about it.

2 Responses to “Second Life and the Fourth Estate”

  1. Hmm. Well, for one, Nobody has still left a comment.

    Second, Adam’s produced good material for SecondLife, and while there isn’t a link from Reuters directly to SL – the stories related to SL are on the secondlife subdomain.

    What Adam also has done is raise the bar on some ‘reporting’. While beforehand the Herald – which openly states it is ‘fairly unbalanced’ – is not at the same level of journalism. That doesn’t mean it is bad, it’s just different. As I wrote somewhere else, you cannot be the Village Voice and the New York Times at the same time. It just doesn’t work very well.

    So I don’t know. I would be careful at clawing at Reuters – the odds are good that when most of the websites out there become dust in the cyberwind, Reuters will still be standing.


  1. […] Second Life and the Fourth Estate – Reuters has a Second Life bureau, cool, but why does their reporter need to make his last name Reuters? […]