BBC Director-General Tony Hall apologises for N-word report
BBC Director General Tony Hall has apologised for the BBC’s use of a racial slur during a news report.
On July 29, correspondent Fiona Lamdin used the N-word during a report on a racially motivated attack in Bristol, repeating the word as it was allegedly used during the incident.
Hall’s statement comes after Radio 1Xtra presenter Sideman quit his show following the controversial broadcast, which has racked up over 18,600 complaints.
In an email sent to BBC staff, Hall wrote: ‘This morning I brought together a group of BBC colleagues to discuss our news coverage of the recent shocking attack on an NHS worker. I wanted us to look at the issues raised by the reporting and the strength of feeling surrounding it.
‘We are proud of the BBC’s values of inclusion and respect, and have reflected long and hard on what people have had to say about the use of the n-word and all racist language both inside and outside the organisation.
‘It should be clear that the BBC’s intention was to highlight an alleged racist attack. This is important journalism which the BBC should be reporting on and we will continue to do so.’
Hall continued: ‘Yet despite these good intentions, I recognise that we have ended up creating distress amongst many people.
‘The BBC now accepts that we should have taken a different approach at the time of broadcast and we are very sorry for that. We will now be strengthening our guidance on offensive language across our output.
‘Every organisation should be able to acknowledge when it has made a mistake. We made one here. It is important for us to listen – and also to learn. And that is what we will continue to do.’
Following the report last month, David ‘Sideman’ Whitely announced that he is leaving his role as BBC 1Xtra presenter and he told his followers ‘I can’t look the other way’.
‘I have thought long and hard about what I am about to say and what it means and on this occasion, I just don’t think that I can look the other away,’ he said in a video shared on Instagram.
‘We live in a world that needs to change, systems that need to change, organisations that need to change and as a person that believes that change can happen and wanting change to happen. I understand transition and I understand it’s not something can happen overnight.
‘There will need to be a lot of learning and unlearning and tearing down of certain building blocks of our society that took a long time to build-up. I am ok with process, I am ok with waiting within reason for certain things to change but the BBC sanctioning the N-word being said on National television by a white person is something I can’t rock with.’
‘This is an error in judgement where I can’t just smile with you through the process and act like everything is ok,’ he continued. ‘I’m happy working with organisations until we all get it right, but this feels like more than getting it wrong. The action and the defence of the action feels like a slap in the face for our community, that’s why effective immediately I am leaving my job as a radio broadcaster for BBC 1Xtra.’
A 1Xtra spokesperson told Metro.co.uk that the door will always be open for Sideman.
‘Sideman is an incredibly talented DJ, ‘ they said in a statement. ‘Obviously we are disappointed that he has taken this decision. We absolutely wish him well for the future. The door is always open for future projects.’
The BBC had defended their use of the N-word in response to critics who could not understand why the station thought it was acceptable.
‘Clearly we would never want our reporting to become the focus of such an important story,’ it said in a statement.
‘We have listened to what people have had to say about the use of the word and we accept that this has caused offence but we would like people to understand why we took the decision we did.
‘This story was an important piece of journalism about a shocking incident. It was originally reported by some as a hit and run, but investigations indicated that racist language was used at the scene and it was then treated by the police as a racially aggravated attack.
‘The victim’s family were anxious the incident should be seen and understood by the wider public. It’s, for this reason, they asked us specifically to show the photos of this man’s injuries and were also determined that we should report the racist language, in full, alleged to have been spoken by the occupants of the car.’
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