The problem with citizen-generated sites like Wikipedia is that they let actual citizens generate the facts. So no, Jim Gardner, ABC6's longtime anchor and Philadelphia television icon, was not arrested in New York City. Not in June. Not before that.
Despite what it said until very recently in the Wikipedia entry about WPVI-TV personalities. And despite this image, purported to have been from a screenshot of a New York television report. Wikipedia has had problems like this before.
Some reader tipped Dan McQuade at Philadelphia Will Do about Gardner's Wiki-reported arrest, and the blogger was so startled that he and the rest of the city's media had missed something that supposedly happened in June to one of the city's biggest bold-face names that he broke the bloggers code.
And actually picked up the phone.
Never happened, a New York City police spokesperson told him. Jim Gardner was not arrested for solicitation a prostitute in June. Neither was James Goldman, which is Gardner's legal name. Not in June. Not before. (I didn't pick up the phone; I actually talked to McQuade in person. Talked to Caroline Foy Welch, the station's programming V.P. as well. She said, "Honestly, I hate to give a prankster even two minutes of my time. We all know the story is completely untrue. It's just unfortunate that a prankster would take a Web site intended to share information and, instead, use it for a malicious practical joke.")
So who would go to so much trouble to apparently photoshop a picture, and slip it into a Wiki page for New York tv reporter named Mary Calvi, then add this made-up graph to the WPVI personalities page:
On June 18, 2006, Goldman was arrested by the New York City Police Department in Manhattan for soliciting a prostitute. He faces a court date in New York City Criminal Court in October.
But that brings us back to our original question: Who hates Jim Gardner? And who hates Jim Gardner so much that he'd go onto Wikipedia and make it seem like he was arrested? And how would that even hurt Jim Gardner in any way at all? (Aside from being written up on Philadelphia Will Do, which I consider an honor.)
Well, the beauty of citizen-generated sites like Wikipedia is that they let citizens also remove facts that aren't facts. All of the bogus information has been scrubbed from the site since McQuade happened upon it and wrote it up in his blog. Who knows how many people got the wrong news about Gardner?
(Thanks to a helpful link from blogger Albert Yee, it looks like the offending material was added to the WPVI Wikipedia page on July 13th by a "Goldman006." It stayed up six days until "Wrath of Roth" got it. Oh, and Wikipedia has records of its authors' IP addresses.)