The Fox Behind SL Newser by Netera Landar
Bixyl Shuftan has dedicated many years to faithfully report Second Life® news. An extremely devoted journalist and editor, see him around the grid covering a Relay for Life event, exploring a popular sim, or attending an art gallery opening. This clever little fox stands tall in the virtual publishing world featuring, along with his staff, daily posts on the SL Newser blog.
“When I became interested in SL, I looked up a number of blogs and websites,” he told me as his SL wife, Jasmine Dawn Shuftan, and I, joined him by the river’s edge, sitting comfortably in Adirondack chairs. “Among them was ‘Second Life Newspaper’ by JamesT Juno and Dana Vanmoer as editors. They asked for reader submissions, both pictures and articles, so I sent them a few. They must have liked what I sent, because they offered me a job.”
After the job interview, he focused his articles on the creative builds and places he enjoys exploring. One of his first pieces was on the Vietnam Wall. Bixyl learned that its virtual builders did include all 50,000 names. “I did research on the real one,” he said, as various sim residents moved about. “I learned what went into its design, such as why the names are listed chronologically instead of alphabetically. I interviewed the small business owner who financed it. One reason to make the wall here is for those who can’t travel to Washington D.C.”
Bixyl began sending stories weekly to the SL Newspaper’s editors. His posts informed his real life friends of the opportunities SL offered. Not only was he interviewing designers and builders, he had the privilege of interviewing Tony Dyson, the special effects creator who designed the real R2D2 from Star Wars. Bixyl was at one of Dyson’s press conferences for a charity event. Tony was interested in creating things in SL. “He showed me a tower he was building that he hoped to use for attracting people to take classes,” Bixyl recalled, adding that Dyson was also on Paisely Bebee’s “Tonight Live” show.
In its prime, SLN had 10,000 online hits per day. But then came changes. JamesT Juno resigned in 2009 because of real life issues. For a while, Dana ran the paper, but then her real life also navigated her away from SL. She informed the staff that she had to leave SL, and that they would no longer publish after the spring of 2010.
The time for deciding the fate of the paper had come. Bixyl asked the other staff members if they wanted to continue writing for the paper. Gemma Cleanslate, Grey Lupindo, Shellie Sands, and Breezes Babii voted for continuing. Their decision led to the founding of the SL Newser.
“I let them write about what inspires them, although on occasion ask for someone to cover something specific,” Bixyl said. “Just after the Newser got started, Linden Labs went through their ‘night of the long knives.’ We were on the scene in time to cover how they laid off a third of their staff. Blue Linden, and a number of others, were dismissed. Linden Labs claimed they were still healthy and were merely ‘restructuring.’ Among the big stories that year were the layoffs, M Linden resigning, and Philip returning (he was the second CEO of Linden Lab).”
In time, things settled down in the main office, and it was back to the business of covering general SL happenings. SL Newser’s reporters committed to submit weekly articles on SL people, places, and events, to make citizens more aware of what was offered in this highly creative world.
“We take pride in presenting places that inspire people, such as Creations for Parkinson’s,” noted Bixyl. “Its creator built the place to help those with the illness, including her mother. We’ll be writing about them again, soon.”
Bixyl keeps up with news, and feels he leads the way in reporting. When he’s not interviewing or writing, his editing and research take another 14 hours a week. Articles aren’t merely posted; they are reviewed word-by-word.
“When we started out, we had just a few thousand readers. Over time, they steadily climbed,” he explained. “After a year, there were about ten thousand people reading the paper monthly. Since then growth is a little slower, but still on the rise.”
The long-term appeal of timely news coverage, sustaining a strong vision through changing ownership, and the commitment of talented contributors combine to give the Newser its prominence.
To see the full issue as it is originally published with all photographs and graphics, please download the magazine: CHECK BACK IN A FEW DAYS FOR THE PDF. For more information, please contact Netera Landar, Editor-in-Chief, neteralandar.gmail.com.