Add CNN to the list of companies entering a virtual world. I had read reports that CNN would launch November 5, but I could find no links or information until today when it was covered on their morning news. (When they zoomed in on the reporter's live laptop screen, the CNN Second Life site was being griefed by flying SpongeBobs.)
SL averaged 400,000 to 700,000 users over the last year with about 40,000 onine at a time. CNN figures that Second Life citizens will be willing to be citizen journalists and create user-generated journalism as people have created video and blogs.
Reuters news service had already embedded a reporter in SL at their "bureau" but CNN is crowdsourcing the reporting for now.
After I updated the SL app (like iTunes, there seems to be a new version every time I check in), I transported to the CNN area. There were a bunch of folks and a few CNN staffers chatting. The main topic seemed to be trying to get CNN to pay can't CNN pay its SL reporters.
Caught in a griefstorm
I visited the Popular Science lounge and drank my coffee while I typed herein the blog. Wandered into a Nokia area where I could get a phone to carry around with me or a Nokia t-shirt or enter a contest to win a phone. The place already loks too commercial for news bureau.
Then I ducked into the Electrolux Innovision Hub to get out of a griefstorm of flying smiley faces. It's probably a good idea to get your company into SL so that you look more cutting edge. It's not that big of an investment. I associate Electrolux with our old cannister vacuum cleaner from the 1960's. They have a Innovation Grant Program: "Second Life residents will be encouraged to submit ideas for useful devices designed to solve a specific challenge. They can present ideas already in development or projects that are still in the concept phase. They can work either as a team or as an individual. Electrolux will decide among the submissions which projects they deem worthwhile, feasible, and able to be completed. From the projects they select (a number at their discretion) they can then award them significant amounts of grant money in Linden dollars based on merit."
Back outside to the news area where I found the official welcome message from CNN:
Welcome to CNN in Second Life! What is CNN doing here? We're trying something new and we want you to be a part of it.
We're building CNN iReport inside the virtual world of Second Life so that the people who live here can share the stories of the world with one another, and with us.
iReports are photo and video stories from people who see interesting or important things happening in their part of the world. An iReport in Second Life is no different; it is just a report by Second Life residents about what's going on in Second Life.
So what exactly is news in a virtual world? You tell us.
Everything you need to get started is right here. Just grab some free iReport gear from any iReport kiosk. The kit includes simple tips for sending your stories, a heads-up display that streams new SL iReports on your screen wherever you travel, and a bunch of avatar-ready iReport apparel.
You can also take your own kiosk to set up wherever you call home, and use it to watch new SL iReport videos and find out about in-world events with CNN experts and other contributors who can help you sharpen your skills as a resident reporter.
We're also putting everything online so it's easy to check in even when you're not in Second Life. Come visit us at http://www.cnn.com/secondlife.
CNN is following a model they use with their real life audience asking viewers to submit I-Reports. They encourage content submitted via cell phones, computers, cameras. These "SL I-Reports"
are supposed to be about events occurring within the virtual world which will be available on news kiosks in places throughout SL.
So what is news in Second Life? Taking a look at the CNN SL blog, I see posts about presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich getting into SL, a virtual Cleveland Library, a replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in SL - not exactly hold-the-presses stuff, but newsy.
If there's an obvious education angle on this right now, it is that CNN staffers will also hold news meetings to help their new cyberjournalists. They will give out media kits to transmit copy and photos, hold weekly news meetings & training sessions. The word on the virtual street is that some of their news personalities will do sessions. (Of course, online anyone can pretend be Anderson Cooper or Soledad O'Brien.) Will there be actual lessons in journalism or writing?