15 July 2019

Penarth : Fake news!

It seems the concept of fake news is not a new one. One hundred and twenty years ago today this newspaper report related the ‘startling news’ of a meteorite falling in Penarth ... but did it?

Evening Express, 15 July 1899:
Startling news fills up the gap in the weather conversation this morning. A meteorite is stated to have fallen near the esplanade at Penarth ...

Seventy-nine people telephoned and telegraphed and called on us this morning to tell us of a meteor which fell at Penarth this morning. The office scientist wrote an account from hearsay, proving it to be the comet of 1817, just a bit used up, but active. Members of Cardiff scientific societies were of [the] opinion that it was a spoonful of meteoric matter out of the milky way. Then our matter-of-fact man took a bus there, and came back and said the strange thing was a mammoth rocket. The scientific people waiting here to hear about it proved immediately that the phenomenon was a successful endeavour of the men in Mars to signal us. Great excitement prevailed, until the news came that the rocket was a stray one from the life-saving station. Then the scientists invited us out to take to drink, and say nothing about it.

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