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A perfect catalyst

GOOD TO TALK: Panellists and audience during the afternoon's opening panel

BRITAIN’S FIRST conference addressing the paucity of Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) people working in sports media was a resounding success, according to the event’s brainchild and co-founder of the Black Collective of Media in Sport (BCOMS).

Broadcaster and journalist Leon Mann told the Voice of Sport that the D-Word conference at the London College of Communications last month was the perfect catalyst for forming relationships with some of the biggest media establishments in the country.
Mann added that although he wasn’t expecting miracles, he did believe that everyone who attended the conference would have left with something positive.
“Firstly I hope the D-Word conference put diversity on the map in the sports media industry,” Mann said.
He added: “We know that Lenny Henry has been doing some good high profile work around the agenda across the industry, but there was nothing specific or with a profile around sports media.

“Given the relationship that many of our community have with sport and the power of sport to influence and change things, I felt it was important to look at the lack of diversity and ensure that this conference was a catalyst for change.

“I hope people left feeling that they were able to put forward ideas and solutions to people who can make real change. In terms of the big bosses who were there on the day, I hope as a collective we helped to nudge them forward with this in some way.”

According to Mann, “There is often a lot of cynicism around bosses sitting on panels and saying the right things and then going away and doing nothing.

“I hope on this occasion that’s not the case and I’ll be meeting up with those that came from the big organisations to follow up.
Importantly, he said: “I’ll also be putting together a media guide that will work as a practical resource for these organisations to help deal with some of the issues raised by people on the day.”  

Andy Cairns, Sky Sports News executive editor; Simon Green, head of BT Sport, BBC head of TV Sport Philip Bernie; The Mirror writer Darren Lewis and The Voice sports and features editor Rodney Hinds, were some of the great and the good that were on the various panels at the conference, which Mann said reflected the serious nature of the day in a bid to get to grips with the issue.

Thanking the Fare Network and the London College of Communications for their support in enabling BCOMS to bring the D-Word conference to fruition, Mann said the foundation had been laid for a positive future.

“I’m full of optimism about what we can achieve in the future and I think that this will be the smallest D-Word that we hold,” he said. “With the right backing, support and funding there is potential to take it from a half-day conference to a full day and I think given what we did on a small budget the industry will jump at the chance to engage with us.”

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