Daily Mirror columnist and football writer Darren Lewis has called for the media to “wake up” to racial equality in response to the Black Lives Matter movement.
In a personal comment piece in today’s paper, Lewis highlights a letter sent out by the Black Collective of Media in Sport (BCOMS) which includes a seven-point plan for all media outlets to encourage diversity. It has gone to every broadcaster and newspaper and been supported by stars like Dina Asher-Smith and David Beckham.
BCOMS founder and SJA vice-chair Leon Mann has been fighting for more BAME inclusion for a decade and, while his D-word conferences have done much to shine a light on the issue, progress has been slow.
Lewis believes that the media can help equality battles in sport but must look at itself too. He wrote:
“With cricket joining football in finally waking up to real issues of racial inequality then we in the media must do so too.
“A hard-hitting letter sent out by the Black Collective of Media in Sport (BCOMS) outline the reasons why newspapers and broadcasters need to better reflect society.
“It calls for training to open up pathways to leadership positions, give employees the skills to address racism and to understand the lack of diversity, and education in conscious and unconscious bias following the revelation from England boss Gareth Southgate that he benefited from his skin colour as he moved into management.
“The BCOMS letter called for career development for staff across all areas and a commitment to producing readily-available progress reports on the number of black and ethnic minority people being employed and any pay gaps.
“In my 20 years at Daily Mirror Sport, the team’s commitment to addressing football’s lack of black managers, the FA’s lack of black leaders and the game’s racism problem has been unrelenting.
“Having kept the focus on sport, however we must also keep progressing. We are seeing a sea-change in our industry. Athletes across a variety of sports recognise that calling out insulting names and gestures from either fans or opponents is not enough.
“Black squares and warm words are failing to appease frustrated athletes, upset fans and members of the media industry with their noses pressed up against the glass.
“To address and deal with sport’s racism and representation problem we need a media better equipped to highlight it and also one better placed to reflect the society it is serving.
“We see this as a junction which could change the course of the industry,” said BCOMS.
As this cultural and sporting revolution continues, there is every chance that could be the case.