Columnist quits after row

By Dominic Ponsford

Columnist David Hewson has quit The Sunday Times in a dispute over
“gee whizz” journalism which he says is not critical enough of new
technology.

Hewson has written the Sounding Off column in the technology supplement Doors (formerly Innovations) since 1995.

He said he first became discontented when the paper launched a Get Digital campaign to encourage broadband.

He
said: “Millions of people have phones they don’t know how to use and
broadband connections they can’t get to work. Telling them they need
more technology seems a bit counter-productive.”

He added: “I
don’t see why a newspaper should campaign for people to get broadband
any more than it should campaign for them to have mobile phones or a
four-by-four.”

Hewson also disagreed with a memo he said was sent
out to journalists last year urging them to promote the use of audio
and video on websites.

He said: “I flatly refused. Most of us
hate audio and video unless they serve a specific purpose, which is
rare. Site designers who avoid them deserve in my opinion to be
applauded, not derided.”

Hewson now plans to concentrate on his other career as a novelist.

Responding
to Hewson’s criticism, Doors editor David Johnson said he was
“disappointed” but added: “David has made a strong contribution to the
paper for many years and he’s entitled to his opinion.”

He said
he believed that the section was challenging and critical of new
technology where necessary and that a browse through the paper’s
archive would show this to be the case.

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