“Japan's youth is caught up in a new craze -- eyeball licking…, ” says the Toronto Sun.
I have seen this story repeated by dozens of major news organizations around the world, including ABC News, the Guardian as well as Time Magazine to name just a few, and I’m afraid there might be less to the tale than meets the eye.
Writing in an obscure publication called the No. 1 Shimbun, Tokyo-based journalist Mark Schreiber tracks this widespread report about a pinkeye epidemic triggered by a bizarre eyeball licking fetish popular among Japanese school kids. In the end he discovers that, while this story has traveled the globe, it has no legs to stand on and is based on pure fabrication.
A number of news publications who reported on the eyeball licking trend that never was, including the Huffington Post, Gawker, Medical Daily, and Medical News Today, have concluded that they dropped the ball and have since updated their stories.
While news organizations should be looking for a lesson to learn from this incident of a hoax heard around the world, most are simply ignoring it or perhaps covering their tracks by deleting the story from their websites. I hope the Sun seizes this opportunity to serve as a blinding beacon of truth with a correction that will shed new light on a story that stands in the shadow of deception.
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 the pages of newspapers, magazines, and more all around the world.
Also see: "In the Public Eye" on Snopes.com
Related MediaBugs reports (the same error over and over again):
The Hot Trend That's Not (PIX 11 News, New York); Houston We Have a Problem (KRIV-TV, Fox 26 in Houston, Texas); The Spread (Houston Chronicle); Seeing Eye to Eye (Huffington Post/UK edition); Eye Witless News Report (ABC News); UPI Out of Focus (United Press International); Another Code Brown! (Medical Daily); Entertaining... Licks Telling the News (ABC2 News, WMAR-TV, Baltimore); Didn't Get the Memo (New Zealand Herald); Here is the Thing (MSN News Canada) Fatal Error (CTV News Canada); Time to Correct? (Time Magazine); More Than Meets the Eye (New York Post); A Cock-eyed Story (New York Daily News); Faking It (Syracuse.com/The Post-Standard); Bucking the Trend That Wasn't (The Times of India); If You Can't Lick 'Em Join 'Em (Fox News); Not a Lick of Truth (The Telegraph); Eye Network Lacks Nose for Fishy Stories (CBS News); 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)
Disappeared (story deleted by news org.):
Faking It (Syracuse.com/The Post-Standard)