From W.J. Elvin III: An interesting study in mainstream media wiggling and waffling. They should have just said “We were suckered. Sorry.” But instead a lot of jabber about how they were just one of many, “maybe” dropped the ball as far as fact-checking and heeding warnings, blah, blah, blah…
The readers’ editor on… how we fell into the trap of reporting Japan’s eyeball-licking craze as fact
bu Chris Elliott
August 25, 2013
The story was all over the web, but it was not especially difficult to cast doubts on the claim that there was an epidemic of tongue-induced pink eye
The web is voracious. It gobbles up stories, themes and memes like a monster from outer space. With the merest puff of wind to launch them, a bewildering slew of tales take off, powered by the perpetual motion of repetition.
The Guardian was among a crowd that made the mistake of filling the sails of one of the weirder stories to take off in this way. The article appeared on the Shortcuts blog. It aims to be a fast-paced humorous column, which is described as “trending topics and news analysis”.
[Video from Huffington Post]
The headline on the story, posted on 14 June 2013, is: “Eyeball-licking: the fetish that is making Japanese teenagers sick”. The author explains that the article will be about “oculolinctus, an eye-licking fetish that is currently sweeping across the schools of Japan like, well, like a great big dirty bacteria-coated tongue sweeping across a horrific number of adolescent eyeballs … oculolinctus is being blamed for a significant rise in Japanese cases of conjunctivitis and eye-chlamydia … It’s apparently seen as a new second-base; the thing you graduate to when kissing gets boring.” (more…)