Masthead CMC Magazine September 1, 1995 / Page 8


Date: Mon, 7 Aug 1995 23:50:31 -0400
From: Martin Middlewood <>
Subject: letter to the editor

It seems that most people are missing two points regarding 
Phil Elmer Dewitt's cyberporn cover story.  1) Dewitt & 
Time are hiding bad journalism.  In the rush to 
garner a cover story, both parties (Elmer-Dewitt & Time) 
didn't want to "risk" their exclusive coverage of a 
sensationalistic topic by letting experts see the report.  
Time could have brought in experts under a non-disclosure 
agreement and avoided this problem.  2) Elmer-Dewitt and 
Time also fell prey to not understanding some 
basic things (like the difference between Usenet,
BBSs, and the Internet.  

They also were trapped by the "social scientist" measurement 
approach, believing that measuring something is more 
important that what's being measured.  Furthermore Time 
by focusing on the sensationalist aspects of the study 
only in passing mentioned that pornographic traffic was 
less than 1% of all Internet traffic.  I would estimate that 
if you looked at all films/videos, or even all the print 
media, that you'd come up with numbers greater than 1%.

And Elmer-Dewitt, a seasoned journalist who's covered 
technology for many years, has made a series of cub reporter's 
mistakes on this one.  The entire story is regrettable, and 
Elmer-Dewitt and Time should no longer avoid 
stating publicly, "Yes, we made a serious mistake."

CMC Magazine welcomes letters on subjects relating to this magazine's contents or computer-mediated communication in general. Send email to All letters will be checked to make sure that that the email address in the letter corresponds to the writer of the letter before publication (to avoid forged mail).

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