BBC Forced To Retract Offensive Covid-19 Headline After Criticism From African Readers

BBC [Photo/Courtesy]

The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) has been forced to retract an offensive Covid-19 headline published on its online platforms after criticism from mostly African readers.

In the article published on Wednesday, September 2, BBC wrote “Coronavirus in Africa: Could poverty explain mystery of low death rate?”

In the article, the publication had reported on how death rates in many African countries have turned out to be much lower than initially feared, alluding that poverty in the continent had something to do with the low numbers.

The writer illustrated that the impossibility of social distancing in Africa due to crowded urban centres, which scientifically translates to high exposure, could give extra protection to the respiratory disease.

The international media found itself on the receiving end of African readers wrath, with many castigating it for promoting racism.

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In a tweet, BBC confirmed that the article has since been edited “to better reflect what the scientists said. It was not our intention to cause offence.”

The updated headline reads, “Coronavirus in South Africa: Scientists explore surprise theory for low death rate”.

Tweeps thronged the comment section calling on the media house to be more sensitive as it’s not the first time its editorial team has been forced to retract comments deemed offensive by Africans.

Last month, BBC was also forced to apologise over the use of N-word used in its, TV broadcast following over 18,000 complaints and the resignation of one of its radio Disc Jockeys.

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Announcing his resignation on social media, Radio 1Xtra presenter Sideman said he could not work with the BBC allowing “the N-word being said on national television by a white person”.

The story, by the BBC social affairs correspondent Fiona Lamdin, repeated the word allegedly shouted during an attack on a young black man, NHS worker and musician known as K or K-Dogg. in Bristol.

BBC had early defended the use of the racial slur saying its inclusion was made with the approval of the victim and his family, who wanted to show the severity of the attack. The media house later succumbed to pressure from critics.

Sideman had stated that BBC’s move to defend itself “feels like a slap in the face of our community”.

While apologising, BBC Director-General Tony Hall said, “Every organisation should be able to acknowledge when it has made a mistake. We made one here.”

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Written by Wycliffe Nyamasege


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