SL Newser is a community news source that covers various topics, events, tech news, features and comics focusing on activities that occur in the virtual world Second life.
Owned and operated by Bixyl Shuftan, it is one of the popular media sources that keep SL residents in the know. 4 years is a great milestone and The SL Enquirer family tips their virtual pens to a fellow media source. Congrats to SL Newser!
SLE sat down with Bixyl to look back on the past 4 years.
Lanai: Hi Bixyl, first of all congratulations on 4 years of news coverage in Second Life. I understand the work involved and respect what you do. I would love to share with our readers a little bit about you and what inspired your decision to report news beginning in 2007. What brought you to Second life and what inspired you to create SL Newser?
Bixyl: Thank you,. I began news reporting in Fall 2007 under a different paper: Second Life Newspaper. I came to Second Life a little less than a year before, in December 2006. I had finally gotten high-speed internet, and friends were wanting me to check out two places, World of Warcraft and Second Life. So I came here. It wasn't until Summer 2007 that I began coming here on a regular basis, exploring around and eventually coming across Luskwood where I more or less got my start. Wanting to more about Second Life, I began looking up blogs about it, and newsletters. Among the latter was the Second Life Newspaper, owned by JamesT Juno and run by Editor Dana Vanmoer. I soon saw a post asking readers to submit pictures and articles of their experiences, so I sent over a few. I guess what I sent over impressed them, they asked me to drop by for a job interview. And so I became their newest reporter, complete with a new office. For two and a half years, I continued to write for them, eventually becoming their office manager. This meant updating the paper on days Dana was too occupied in Real Life. We had a huge team for a while, a couple dozen writers, and a number of sponsors. But James and Dana had to deal with some real life matters that were making it more difficult for them to run the paper. In a staff meeting in April 2010, Dana announced the paper would be shutting down in two months. They just couldn't run it any longer. So what to do? Well, we were writers, that's what we do. Second Life just wouldn't be the same for us otherwise. I talked with my teammates about what to do, and we soon came up with the idea of starting a new newsletter, with a new name. And so on Saturday June 5, Second Life Newspaper folded, and Second Life Newser began, with me as the owner and editor.
Lanai: How would you describe SL Newser’s style and what it has to offer compared to other sources here in Second Life?
Bixyl: We report on a wide range of subjects in Second Life, both large and small from announcements from Linden Lab to the troubles of a small club starting up. Our slogan is that we report on the people, places, and events across Second Life, and we live up to it. Unlike the self-described tabloid "The Herald," we don't focus on bad news and drama for it's own sake. While there are a number of popular fashion blogs, and we eventually started our own Fashion section thanks to DrFran Babcock, residents want more than that. They want to know about what's going on, cool places to visit, and some examples of people whom have made an impact on the Grid. The latter not just "SL-lererties," even though many if not most became so through hard work, but also people whom have been more or less quietly helping out others as well.
Lanai: How often do you publish news and how do you decide what type of news you will be publishing?
Bixyl: We publish daily. On the weekends it's often a single video or cartoon. But on weekdays, you'll see an article or two or three. What to publish, I occasionally ask someone from the staff to write about something, but normally I let them write about whatever they find inspiring. Myself, I usually have just enough time to write two to three good-sized articles. I try to write about something important to Second Life in some way. At times when there's a lot going on I have to choose what gets published and reluctantly what gets put on the back burner for another time.
Lanai: What is your most memorable moment with SL Newser?
Bixyl: That's an interesting question, as I've had many memorable moments with the paper. Our beginning was certainly memorable. Just days after James and Dana's farewell party came the news of the Linden Lab layoffs, then Emeraldgate and CEO M Linden stepping down. I guess you can say our paper was established just in time to cover some big news.
Lanai: I know it takes a team to manage media. Who is involved in maintaining SL Newser?
Bixyl: Gemma Cleanslate and Grey Lupindo have been with the Newser since it's begining, like me reporters from the old Second Life Newser. They have solid records about writing about many different subjects. Gemma has written quite a bit on the Burn2 and SL Birthday events. Grey has many articles about fascinating places to explore. Later on DrFran Babcock, whom already had a name for herself as a blogger, came aboard. Nydia Tungsten, known as an estate manager and club organizer, and more recently her videos, also began writing for us. Grease coakes, whom has also been writing fiction in real life, is among our staff. Finally there's Theonlyjohnny Resident, who has been busy at college.
Lanai: Maintaining a solid team of great writers is very rewarding. Are you currently hiring? If so, how can writers go about applying?
Bixyl: We always have room for another writer. They can contact me either in Second Life, or email (bixylshuftan(at)gmail.com), or they can contact one of the reporters who will pass word to me. Those applying need to have had at least 30 days experience inworld on their accounts, and need to have the time to send in at least one article a week. We pay per story plus a small bonus each month.
Lanai: How can residents go about advertising in SL Newser or having news published?
Bixyl: Contact me, or one of the others on the Newser team. We publish press releases about events that we believe are newsworthy, such as the Relay for Life, or a performance by an art group. But if you want to advertise about your club or clothing store, that calls for an advertisement. We have two levels of advertising, advertorial article and sponsorship. Advertorials are the most common, written for the purpose of advertising a place, such as a store. There are also sponsorships, which cost more but get you on the front page for as long as the sponsorship lasts.
Lanai:4 years is a long time in Second Life, this shows you are dedicated to what you do. Where do you see SL Newser a year from now?
Bixyl: Thank you Lanai. I see ourselves as doing pretty much what we're doing now, reporting the news about the people, places, and events, hopefully with a few new faces on our team.
Lanai: As managers of media, we get to see things from behind the scenes. What kinds of things do you see as valuable to maintaining a successful Second Life community and what changes do you think need to be made?
Bixyl: Many vibrant communities I've seen are led by a single dynamic individual, but what happens when that individual is suddenly gone? I've seen places that have fallen apart because their leader was unavailable for a long time due to RL matters. It's best to have others helping you whom can take over for you if real life decides to rear it's uglier head and hold you down for a while, or worse.
Lanai: Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?
Bixyl: Just thank you for putting us in the spotlight. My teammates do work pretty hard.
When you go to the SL11B, don't forget to stop by our exhibit there. And should you see Gemma Cleanslate, DrFran Babcock, or any of the other reporters there, please say hello.
Lanai: Thank you so much for sharing your time with SLE and providing the Second Life community with news. It is a very important job we have and I wish you continued success. Congratulations on 4 years.
Bixyl: My pleasure. You and your readers have a great summer, and see you inworld.
Preferred Contact: Gemma Cleanslate