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Reuters man sacked for making a joke online

Sat 2011-Apr-23 @ +08 12:02:34 pm

Reuters has fired its Jakarta bureau chief David Fox for making a crude remark in an Internet chat room with other Reuters people covering the Japan tsunami and nuclear disaster story. He was dismissed without possibility of appeal.

Fox’s remark (details not available) was made while chatting with Andrew Marshall, a senior editor on the Asia desk in Singapore.

(Unspun in Jakarta says he’s been told that the actual conversation on the chat room involved Japanese women.)

Marshall was reprimanded and given a written warning for asking a bald colleague in Japan, “Is your hair starting to fall out?”

There were about 25 to 30 people in the Reuters chat room created specifically for journalists involved in the Japan disaster story. All were Reuters journalists, mostly in other regions.

Reuters insiders in Asia said Marshall’s story is part of a wider saga, details of which are likely to be told soon, according to The Baron, a private web site devoted to Reuters people.

“I was feeling slightly miserable alone on the Asiadesk in the middle of the night watching images of death and suffering on multiple TV screens … I thought my message might raise a few smiles, and I know from extensive experience working in war zones and disaster areas how important this is for team morale,” he said.

Marshall joined Reuters in 1994 and has reported from more than 25 countries: East Timor, Indonesia, Cambodia, Thailand and Burma among them, and handled desks in Bangkok, Baghdad and Dubai.

Fox arrived in Indonesia in January to become Jakarta bureau chief. He was on temporary assignment to Tokyo last month. Fox, from Zimbabwe, joined Reuters in 1991.
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