BBC Director General Tony Hall has apologised for the BBC using a racial slur in a news report broadcast last month.
The report in question was about a racially aggravated attack in Bristol, in which the presenter used the N-word. The report ran on the BBC News Channel and local news programme Points on 29 July.
The BBC, which received more than 18,600 complaints over the report, had initially defended the use of the word saying it was supported by the family of the victim. Lord Hall now accepts that this had been a mistake.
A BBC Radio 1Extra DJ quit his job on Saturday over the corporation’s use of this racial slur.
Sideman, whose real name is David Whitely, said in a video statement on his Instagram page that the use of the word felt like a “slap in the face” and that he “didn’t feel comfortable” being aligned with the organisation any longer.
He announced that he would be quitting his show with immediate effect.
Massive respect to Sideman for stepping down from his job on Radio 1Xtra. The BBC were out of order for what they did...they know it and we all know it. pic.twitter.com/eOSriKcjGa— Michael Morgan (@mikewhoatv) August 8, 2020
In an email sent to staff Lord 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.”
A spokesperson for BBC 1Xtra said: "Sideman is an incredibly talented DJ. 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."
A number of fans on social media praised Sideman’s decision to take a stand against the corporation.
One fan shared his respect for the radio presenter.
Someone should never have to leave their Job because the @BBC hasn't got the common sense to apologise or relieve the person who thought use of the Nword was acceptable— BlackedHatGuy (@BlackedHatGuy) August 9, 2020
Big up DJ Sideman for showing young Black Men to have a Zero Tolerance policy in Racism. Fuck Keir Starmer https://t.co/i4ByvZoEm7
Another said that they stood with his decision.
I stand with DJ Sideman. The use of 'that' word was not justified and represents a retrogressive step at the @BBC and in our society.— #WeAreSoF**ked 😷 3.5% 🇪🇺⭐🕯️ Fiery #RejoinEU (@FirehorseP) August 9, 2020
Guardian columnist and author Afua Hirsch wrote that he was brave for taking this stand.
Standing w my brother DJ Sideman - who has quit @bbc1xtra in protest at BBC's astonishing decision to defend using the N-word on air@sidemanallday.— Afua Hirsch (@afuahirsch) August 8, 2020
Why does a black man have to walk away from his job for @BBCNews to listen to basic anti-racism?
Tired of this shit https://t.co/E5GsqfyoQm
While a few Twitter users defended the BBC.
One wrote that the reporter was informing viewers of the language used.
She was merely reporting what happened and informed viewers what language was used - this would in 99.99% of cases mean that viewers would sympathise with the victim. Will DJ Sideman be destroying all his music collection that includes the same word?— MidasBanker (@BankerMidas) August 9, 2020
Another said the term was used to explain the severity of the attack.
The BBC's usage of the n-word is ok here since it is to explain the severity of a criminal attack. DJ Sideman's revolution speech about dismantling England is concerning.— Adam (@AdamBrowneJ) August 9, 2020
It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing@bbc1x @sidemanallday
One user wrote that we should distinguish between “using” and “saying” the word.
I respect DJ Sideman's decision, but I really feel we need to distinguish the difference between "using" the word and "saying" the word. I refuse to have the simple utterance of the word in intellectual conversions about racism trigger me. I'm not giving it that power.— Anthony Johnson (@jcr33k) August 9, 2020