London conference to debate the D Word

Sports journalism in Britain today remains overwhelmingly white, and male.

Leon Mann: BCOMs is organising next week's D Word conference
Leon Mann of BCOMS is one of the organisers of next week’s D Word conference

BCOMS, the Black Collective of Media in Sport, is organising the D Word Conference next week, on diversity in sports journalism.

The statistics presented by BCOMS are powerful:

  • No black football writers went to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil with the national papers.
  • There has never been a black sports editor on a mainstream national newspaper.
  • There is not one black sports columnist across the mainstream national papers. The only black columnists are all current or former professional sportsmen and women, not sports journalists.
  • Only one black sports presenter was involved in coverage across all of the 2014 summer’s major sporting events.
  • Only one black TV sports editor was involved in coverage across all of the summer’s major sporting events, from the World Cup 2014 to Wimbledon and the Commonwealth Games.

The one-day conference in London, to be held on the afternoon of October 24 at the BT Sport Studio at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, “will see speakers underline their commitment to making the sports media more diverse, discuss and debate practical ways to deliver more diversity in the industry and put this important issue firmly on the agenda for the industry’s key decision makers”.

The conference – part of the FARE (European football’s anti-discrimination and equality network) Action Weeks that unite supporters, clubs, ethnic minorities and communities affected by discrimination across the continent ­­– is for journalists and students with aspirations of joining the sports media, PR practitioners, media industry diversity experts, equality campaigners and decision makers across the broadcast media and press.

The SJA, which earlier this year staged its own diversity forum for members, students and guests which addressed diversity in the industry in its widest sense, will be represented.

Leon Mann, the founder of BCOMS, said: “The D Word – diversity – has long ignored by those in the sports media. The inaugural D Word Conference had a mission: to put diversity firmly on the agenda for the industry’s key decision makers.

“In October 2014, over 150 delegates went to the London College of Communication – located in one of the most multi-cultural areas in the UK – to lend their voices to an inspiring and challenging debate on this issue.

“Top of the running order was changing the rhetoric. For too long diversity has been billed as, ‘doing the right thing’. But in the 21st century diversity is really just about being better. In the media that means a better newsroom, more dynamic features, a wider spectrum of opinion, and ultimately a better product.

“The argument against diversity has always been that employers want ‘The Best’. But The D Word challenged decision makers to focus on redefining what we mean by ‘Best’. Because for too long ‘The Best’, or those with the potential to be ‘The Best’, have been sidelined or ignored. If the industry truly wants ‘The Best’, they are going to have to invest in new ways of finding talent.

“Of course, a talking shop is of limited use. Instead, The D Word seeks practical outcomes, positive solutions, advice and recommendations. This guide reflects some of the important ideas generated. We hope it will help the sports media to take bold steps towards becoming a more diverse industry.”

You can sign for the D Word conference here.


  • Thu Dec 15, 2016: SJA British Sports Awards, sponsored by The National Lottery
  • Mon Feb 27, 2017: SJA British Sports Journalism Awards, sponsored by BT Sport