BBC producer calls racist comment ‘light-hearted word play’

Today’s MediaWireWorld roundup of journalism news from outside the U.S. Send tips to Kristen Hare:


Jeremy Clarkson, a presenter for BBC2′s “Top Gear,” is being investigated for racist comments made while filming in Myanmar with co-hosts Richard Hammond and James May, John Plunkett wrote on Tuesday in The Guardian.

As an Asian man was seen walking along the bridge, Clarkson said: “That is a proud moment, but there’s a slope on it.” Hammond replied: “You’re right, it’s definitely higher on that side.”

“Top Gear” Executive Producer Andy Wilman called the “slope” remark “light-hearted word play” in a statement, adding, “We were not aware at the time, and it has subsequently been brought to our attention, that the word ‘slope’ is considered by some to be offensive.”

Clarkson was also warned recently about another racist remark made while filming another “Top Gear” segment, Plunkett wrote. Clarkson shared his statement on that through a video on Twitter, saying he was “trying to obscure” the n-word in the rhyme “Eeny Meeny, Miny Mo” and apologized that “my efforts weren’t quite good enough.”

Clarkson said in his Sun column on Saturday: “I’ve been told by the BBC that if I make one more offensive remark, anywhere, at any time, I will be sacked.

“And even the angel Gabriel would struggle to survive with that hanging over his head. It’s inevitable that one day, someone, somewhere will say that I’ve offended them, and that will be that.”

On Tuesday, the BBC reported that Ofcom, a media regulator, is investigating Clarkson’s Myanmar statement.

If Ofcom decides its code has been breached “seriously, deliberately, repeatedly, or recklessly”, it can impose sanctions ranging from the broadcast of a correction or statement to a fine of up to £250,000.


Brazil may be moving toward stronger freedoms for the press, the Committee to Protect Journalists reported Tuesday in “Halftime for the Brazilian press,” a special report. The country, Joel Simon wrote in the introduction, is one of contradictions, where there’s a “vibrant and robust national media. But journalists are regularly murdered with impunity and critical reporters are subjected to legal harassment and judicial censorship.”

But as this report makes clear, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff is confronting the challenge of creating a more favorable environment for the media. After initially failing to recognize the gravity of the threat posed by unchecked violence against the press, Brazilian authorities have taken steps to bring the killers of journalists to justice. In the past year, authorities obtained an unprecedented four convictions in such cases.



Journalists at Fairfax Media voted to go on strike after learning that 80 people would lose their jobs, Sharri Markson reported Wednesday in The Australian.

Fairfax editors told staff of the job losses this morning, which will affect long-serving photographers, senior picture editors and layout and production staff, with work outsourced to contributors and external agencies such as Getty Images.

The proposal will see only 10 photographers remain at The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age mastheads, including their Sunday editions.

It’s a reduction of at least 30 full-time staff, with photography work outsourced to the photo agency, Getty Images.


From Takvim, in Istanbul, Turkey, (courtesy Newseum) the arrows help, right?

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  • danbloom

    i knew a UK editor once in Asia newspaper, he referred to the black American reporter on our staff behind his back of course as a nigger. racism and antisemitism is big among whites in UK, and there is a history there. sad. Once a proud nation, now…?

  • canardnoir

    Isn’t it special how the Brits – perhaps the most blood thirsty monarchs and class distinct group of humans every to be found on this Earth – are now the melting pot for all, in addition to being so politically correct.

    I wonder what ever happened to the English language children’s rhyme: “Sticks and Stones…”.

    As we were taught in grade school more than 50-years ago – It was better to ignore name-calling and/or to ignore the taunt – refraining from physical retaliation within that scope of non-reaction.

    The rhyme, said to have appeared in The Christian Recorder of March 1862, a publication of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, where it was presented as an “old adage” in this form:

    “Sticks and stones will break my bones
    But words will never harm me.”

    Now today, just say or infer the wrong thing, and you’ll be either outed in the media as Mr. Clarkson is discovering – or, somebody will “pop a cap” on you!

    And besides, haven’t we now all learned that we do not have any reasonable expectation of privacy, no matter where we are?