They don’t call CBS the “Eye Network” for nothing I guess. Just read the eye-popping lede on Michelle Castillo’s June 14, 2013 story, “Japanese "eyeball licking" trend carries blindness risk.” Castillo wrote, “A strange trend among Japanese school-aged children and teens -- licking a friend or lover's eyeballs -- may be perplexing, but experts are more worried about the germs they are potentially spreading.”
While the story was more than an eyeful for anybody to take in, journalist, Mark Schreiber decided to take a second look at the eye-licking tale which was finding its way into publications across Europe and North America. The Tokyo-based scribe discovered that this weird news story stretching back to Japan stretched the truth to its extreme limits. Writing in the Number 1 Shimbun, Schreiber says that “it was not especially difficult to at least cast doubts on the sweeping claim that large numbers of Japanese adolescents were suffering from an epidemic of tongue-induced pink eye.”
I don’t know how CBS verified its story but it looks like the urban myth-buster from Tokyo pulled some pretty sophisticated tools out of his journalism bag, like a communications device (perhaps a telephone), which he used to contact a couple of Japanese ophthalmological associations, a school clinicians’ organization and other medical professionals. “None of them had the faintest idea of what I was talking about,” Schreiber says, which leads me to believe that there is something fishy with CBS’ story.
(Portions of this post have appeared in related MediaBugs reports filed by JT Cassidy)
If you want a real eye-opener, take a look at "Lick This!" by Mark Schreiber and read how the tale of a fake fad made in Japan made its way into online publications like MNT as well as the pages of newspapers, magazines, and more all around the world.
Also see: "In the Public Eye" on Snopes.com
Related MediaBug reports:
Calling Out the Daily Caller (The Daily Caller); Code Brown (Medical News Today); Gawk at This! (Gawker); Not a Thing (The San Francisco Chronicle); Less Than Meets the Eye (The Guardian); A Blind Eye to the Truth (Huffington Post); Falling for a Fake Story... (The Washington Times)