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Bug #38431 closed:corrected

Less to This Story Than Meets the Eye

This bug appeared in a news report published by The Guardian's Shortcuts Blog on Jun 14, 2013 by Stuart Heritage. View the original news report.
Bug Type:  Other

Okay so I’m perusing an article by Stuart Heritage in the Guardian’s Shortcuts blog and the first words to meet my eyes are “eyeball-licking.” Eyeball-licking!  Yuck! Who in their right mind would ever do such a thing? Then I read where it says “this is an article about oculolinctus, an eye-licking fetish that is currently sweeping across the schools of Japan.” Oh Japan, nuff said. No reason for me or anybody else to bother giving this story a second look. It was nothing out of the ordinary, just another link in a long chain of weird news stories that seem to stretch back to Japan for some reason.

Fortunately Tokyo-based writer, Mark Schreiber, did take a second look and 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.” While I admittedly have no idea what the Guardian’s intrepid reporter did to get his story, this urban myth-buster from Tokyo went so far as to practice journalism (go figure), contacting 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 there is less to the Guardian’s story than meets the eye. 


Supporting Information:

Related article:

 "Lick This!" by Mark Schreiber

Related MediaBug reports: 

A Blind Eye to the Truth

Falling for a Fake Story...



JT Cassidy has contacted The Guardian's Shortcuts Blog

Bug History

Aug 05, 2013 10:39 pm Open JT Cassidy
Aug 25, 2013 6:57 pm Open: Under Discussion JT Cassidy
Aug 25, 2013 6:59 pm Closed: Corrected JT Cassidy

Discussion Leave a comment


In the Guardian: "The readers' editor on… how we fell into the trap of reporting Japan's eyeball-licking craze as fact." (http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/aug/25/guardian-japan-eyeball-licking-craze-hoax)

In his August 25 Open Door column, Chris Elliott, the readers' editor for the Guardian, cites an apology from writer Stuart Heritage and writes about how the paper dropped the ball on this story. Elliott notes that the Guardian will remove the article from its website.

Heritage is a popular and witty writer for an excellent paper, the Guardian. The Guardian was certainly not alone in reporting on this trend that was not, but its fix to the story puts it head and shoulders above the pack of less responsible news outlets who refuse to set the record straight.

Aug 25, 2013 6:58 pm