Thursday, November 01, 2007

The Virtual Beat

CNN To Launch Bureau in Second Life Virtual World

By Mike Shields

As news organizations slash budgets and scale back bureaus, CNN is expanding -- except not in real life.

In the week of Nov. 5, the news giant is set to open a news-gathering outpost in Second Life. And unlike news service Reuters, which embedded a real reporter in the online virtual world last year, CNN will rely on Second Life "residents" to do all the legwork.

In the space, the network will create a variation of its i-Reports, the real-world vehicle through which average citizens contribute eyewitness reports. CNN will equip Second Life denizens with kits enabling them to transmit copy and photos. Visitors to Second Life will be able to get the latest news via kiosks scattered throughout the virtual community.

And the network will act as a sort of journalism school, offering guidance to avatar citizen journalists via weekly "news meetings" directed by staffers. And it¹s possible that down the line top CNN personalities including Larry King would conduct virtual training sessions for budding cyber journalists.

Given that Second Life users tend to be highly passionate about the virtual space, CNN execs believe the community will embrace user-generated journalism -- more than they would embrace simply repurposed content.

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