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Read quotes from this news feature on BBSing at WCSC-TV (CBS)!

Earth Art BBS featured on WCSC (CBS)

From Live Five News

Story on dial-up computer bulletin boards entitled "CompuSex"
(Part 3 in the 3-part investigative report aired on May 12, 1993)

As was the case later with the internet, some of the first news stories about bulletin boards focused on the more controversial aspects of going online - such as the possibility of young children seeing pornography online. In this case, WCSC-TV did a pretty good job in painting a realistic portrait of what was available in cyberspace. The reporter, John Mills, did better than many BBS users feared.

Part 1 was a particularly scathing attack on BBSing that seemed to imply most bulletin boards were run by smut peddlers - not your typical computer hobbyists. In Charleston Chat, a popular local public BBS network conference, both users and sysops (system operators) alike were outraged a local TV station was willing to distort what was actually happening online - just to get higher ratings for sweeps week. The reporter earlier left public messages in Charleston Chat announcing WCSC was doing the story about bulletin boards and asking for input. Some people felt they were sold out.

Part 2 was almost as sensational and negative, but pointed out all local BBS sysops required users to send a photocopy of their driver's license to prove they were of legal age before they were able to access any adult files and or messages. Many people online still felt the public was being unfairly scared about the "danger" of using a computer and modem - as if there was no content of any value.

Part 3, however, was surprisingly fair. It pointed out adult content is only one part in a vast world of information which can have a great value for education. It was this third and final installment which had a feature on Earth Art BBS. I felt lucky to have a chance to point out the good side of BBSing. (TV camera showed me in front of BBS computer, pointing to the screen.)

"But computer sex is just a small part of billions of pieces of clean information you can obtain and exchange with millions of other computer users worldwide. Take Bob Chapman for example. He and his family run a wildlife art gallery on Ashley Phosphate Road and run a bulletin board on this computer in the store."

[Me talking, while pointing to new messages arriving from GreenNet] "There's somebody from Denmark. Now here's somebody from Hong Kong". [Reporter] "The environment is Chapman's big concern, so he started GreenNet - a worldwide network of computer users who care about the environment." [Me] "This company (Ambassador) has literally raised millions of dollars for conservation."

[Reporter] "Today's computers are so advanced, Chapman's computer doubles as an online art gallery - the first of its kind in the world. Paintings on display in the store can also be found in the computer." [Me] "We have all of the South Carolina Duck Stamp designs. All the Federal Duck Stamps designs that are in color." [Reporter] "Chapman's laser disc player contains over 25,000 art pieces for sale and you can find any of them in a matter of seconds."

The 3 part series then ended with the amount of sex online being compared to a big bookstore with only a small section for adult magazines way in the back. The reporter later admitted he took some heat from news staff at the station who wanted all 3 parts to be as shocking and sensationalist as part one had been. Fortunately, he did the right thing and ended up keeping things in perspective.

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