You might have noticed that since last November
the engineering and science themed daily RF Cafe header images have been much larger
than those which graced the pages in the past. The change was motivated mainly by a desire
to make them more viewable on the tiny screens of mobile phones. It also gave me the
opportunity to include more information. In the process, I took the occasion of being
on each engineering and technology daily history page to check on the validity of the
long ago included hyperlinks to pages which validated dates of events. Use of Wikipedia
was avoided because of the joke-worthy reputation it had for bogus information which
was either made up by pranksters or simply regurgitated from other inaccurate sources
on the Web. I thought Wikipedia was past that, but evidently based on a recent discovery
there are still instances of bad data.
While creating a new RF Cafe day in history header for March 24, I tried to look up
the web page where I originally got the date for the world's first commercial radio broadcast
from a moving train. The feat was accomplished by station
WJZ out of New Jersey, while aboard a Baltimore and Ohio (B&O)
train. The URL was dead, so I looked to
Wikipedia as a new authoritative source. March 24, 1932, was confirmed
as the date on more than one Wikipedia page.
Since I wanted to use that event as the theme
for the day's history graphic, I did more searching to look for a picture, but to no
avail - just more reiterations of March 24th being the day. So, I decided to use my
to look for old news accounts of it. Without exception, every newspaper of the day reported
the broadcast as occurring on Sunday,
March 27, 1932 -
not the 24th. It was Easter Sunday. The Allentown Morning Call reported the
event in its Sunday, March 27, 1932 edition. The Brooklyn Daily Eagle announced
the upcoming trial in its Sunday, March 20, 1932, edition, and finally The Ithaca
Journal-News reported on the success in its April 14, 1932 edition.
Sure, it's not really that big of a deal, and not many people care at this late date,
but the point of the story is that even though some websites have worked hard to try
to parse "fake news," to use a popular phrase du jour, there are still plenty of places
where it creeps in. Caveat emptor.
Posted March 25, 2018