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Bug #37526 closed:unresolved

Big Hole in Bagel Head Story

This bug appeared in a news report published by Huffington Post on Sep 26, 2012 by Jessica Misener. View the original news report.
Bug Type:  Other

Writing in The Japan Times blog, Japan Pulse, Rebecca Milner notes that “a show on National Geographic, ran a segment earlier this week on a kind of extreme body modification that has been happening in Japan’s underground for years. It involves injecting saline into the forehead and then sometimes putting a depression into the bulge in a way that comes out looking like a bagel or a doughnut." The problem, as she correctly points out, is that "Predictably, U.S. media outlets such as the Huffington Post, CNN and Mashable, and the U.K.’s The Sun and Daily Mail quickly turned this into “Japan’s hot new beauty trend,” to quote the HuffPo headline.” The Huffington Post for one has just gotten it plain wrong.



Lemonade has not contacted Huffington Post

Bug History

Sep 28, 2012 10:47 pm Open Lemonade
Sep 29, 2012 12:07 am Open: Under Discussion JT Cassidy
Dec 01, 2012 9:01 am Closed: Unresolved admin

Discussion Leave a comment


I like you Lemonade but you’re a little too sour on the Huff Post here, especially since the bug really lies in the Japan Pulse post (http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/bagel-head-trend-is-a-big-distortion/).

Rather than a statement of fact, the actual Huff Post headline ('Bagel Head' Saline Forehead Injections: Japan's Hot New Beauty Trend?) is a question. The Japan Pulse story omits the punctuation which makes all the difference. Then there are the big bold quotation marks surrounding the word “trend” appearing just a few sentences into the article that seem to scream that it is anything but a trend. In fact the Huff Post article notes that saline forehead injections, rather than sweeping the beauty salons of Main Street Japan, are merely a “part of the Japanese "body modification" art scene” (as also noted in the Japan Pulse article). In short, if you read beyond the headline, you find the answer to the question it poses is a big fat “NO.”

In setting the record straight, Japan Pulse writer, Rebecca Milner tracks down the popular subculture blogger, La Carmina, who she (Milner) says did all the “legwork” for the National Geographic TV show on forehead saline injections. La Carmina is quoted as saying that she has been writing about the injections for years now. While it may not be a trend, it definitely seems to be something (or something else) to write about. Milner recommends that readers who want to find out more about the injections check out the “excellent interview in Vice published last year.” Anyone who has read the original Huff Post story that the Japan Pulse post takes such careful aim at probably already has read it since it includes the very same informative article link.

The Japan Pulse post says La Carmina “takes issue with how it [the story] ended up being exaggerated, not on National Geographic, but on the coverage that followed.” The trouble with that statement is that the focus of the Huff Post story is a video clip from “National Geographic Taboo” itself. More than anything else, the article (which ties everything up at the end by telling readers when and where they can tune into the upcoming televised episode of National Geographic) is little more than a teaser for the TV show.

The Japan Pulse article accuses Huffington Post and other media outlets of taking the Nat Geo story at face value and misguiding its readers. You have to dig deep if you want to get to the heart of any story. You can’t judge a book by its cover and you can’t judge a news article by its headline alone either, especially one that is misquoted, which is unfortunately exactly what Japan Pulse has done.

Sep 29, 2012 11:41 pm

Following up on my long comment above, I want to mention that Japan Pulse writer, Rebecca Milner, responded to my comment on the Japan Times blog site (I’m JTC there). She wrote, “I shouldn’t have singled out HuffPo (as it wasn’t the worst offender), and I’ve amended the story to acknowledge the question mark. Still, if you can’t judge an article by its headline, then what function does a headline serve? And I don’t think the National Geographic clip suggests at all that this *could* be a trend, so even asking if it could be (as the HuffPo headline does), in my opinion, is grossly misleading.”

I was very glad to get the reply. I wrote that the author’s response was “journalism at its best in my book” and that “I wish more media outlets, Eastern and Western, would take note and get on the same page.” I also wish the Japan Times had a story update/correction policy more like the NYT or even the HuffPo for that matter. Milner noted that the story was updated (with the minor addition of the question mark) in the comment section. I would have ideally liked to have seen the update note, including date and time, at the beginning of the article. The icing on the cake would have been an explanation for the revision at the end of the article, but in the end I believe the Japan Pulse did the right thing. You can’t have your cake and eat it too I guess.

Oct 01, 2012 6:35 pm