Reuters staff in trouble after Japan-related jokes in company chatroom

Reuters editor Andrew Marshall was reprimanded after making a Japan/nuke-related joke in an internal company chatroom, while stressed out and sleep deprived, working the night shift.

His comment about radiation levels in Tokyo following the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear meltdown – "Is your hair starting to fall out?" – was directed to a bald colleague in Japan.

It was in the middle of the night on the Asia desk in Singapore where he was alone on the overnight shift that had been started after the Japan crisis hit.

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

"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.

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. A related post, and a Guardian item here says that Reuters bureau chief David Fox was fired over a "crude remark" he made in the online exchange (the remark was not reprinted).