Special Report: CD Media Longevity Misrepresented in US News & World Report

 

by Katherine Cochrane

 Also see the updated Special Report: Chronology of a Scandal

In their 16 Feb 1998 issue, US News & World Report published an article about data storage media that contained significant technical errors. Dr. John Van Bogart of the National Media Lab, whose research was inaccurately cited in the article, sent a letter to the editor of that magazine protesting the misuse and mistatement of the Lab's work, and setting out the facts as they really are. You can find a link to this article, the letter Dr, Van Bogart wrote and more information about media longevity on National Media Lab's website.

Dr. Jerry McFaul, president of the SIGCAT Foundation, in an email to me characterized the US News report as, "...absurd observations and egregious errors..." McFaul went on to say, "...look at the potential harm and loss of business that will result from the thousands of information managers and decision makers who see that article, believe it, and then dismiss CD technology as a valid storage medium."

This is hardly the first instance of misinformation about CD and CD-R media life expectancy to appear in the popular press. See a response to one such attack from Dana Parker, a respected industry commentator. The article Parker refers to resulted in a flurry of discussions in the USENET forums and elsewhere, which demonstrated the validity of Dr. McFaul's worries regarding the effects on the industry of such ill-informed press. A search of messages on the topic in the comp.publish.cdrom.hardware newsgroup alone would show many instances of people quoting inaccurate statements from technically unqualified reporters as fact, leading a significant numbers of readers to base their purchasing decisions on bad information.

Here are some places where you can find accurate information about optical and magnetic media life expectancy and quality:


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