Technology & Science

Reuters sends virtual reporter to Second Life

Reuters is opening a virtual news bureau in Second Life, a three-dimensional online world inhabited by hundreds of thousands of users and one of the world's most popular virtual economies.

Reuters is opening a virtual news bureau in Second Life, a three-dimensional online world inhabited by hundreds of thousands of users and one of the world's most popular virtual economies.

The news service announced Monday that Reuters journalist Adam Pasick will take on the post of virtual bureau chief, reporting on Second Life's economy and business sector.

Starting Wednesday, Reuters will publish text, photo and video news from the outside world for Second Life members and news of Second Life for real-world readers.

Reuters is one of several real-world corporations that has a presence in the virtual world on the internet.

Organizations such as Harvard University, American Apparel Inc. and CNet.com are among those opening operations in Second Life, while musicians such as Duran Duran and Suzanne Vega have broadcast virtual concerts there using the world's lifelike animated characters.

The parallel universe was created in 2003 by San Francisco-based Philip Rosedale, chief executive officer of Linden Research Inc. It has more than 800,000 inhabitants, of whom more than 100 are earning a real-world, full-time living there, selling things like virtual land, clothes, jewelry, weaponry and pets or by offering virtual services, notably sex.

Making real money

Hundreds of thousands of real dollars change hands in Second Life daily. It would have an annual gross domestic product of about $150 million US if it were to stop growing today, according to the Associated Press.

While objects are bought and sold using Linden dollars, the Second Life currency, Linden dollars can be exchanged for U.S. dollars, so users can make real money.

Anshe Chung, an avatar, or animated character, created by Chinese-German businesswoman Ailin Graef, reportedly netted more than $100,000 last year trading and leasing land in desirable Second Life locations.

Pasick, a Reuters media correspondent based in London, will use an avatar called "Adam Reuters."

"As strange as it might seem, it's not that different from being a reporter in the real world," Pasick said in a news release. "Once you get used to it — it becomes very much like the job I have been doing for years."

Pasick said Reuters is not bending any editorial rules to operate in a world that blends fiction with reality.

"Being unbiased, being accurate, being fast, all the things that Reuters strives for, they hold true in just about any environment in which you would want to report the news," he said.

With files from the Associated Press