TRACIE POWELL: How ‘Washington Watch With Roland Martin’ Succeeds

Source: Tracie Powell / Poynter.

Roland Martin is always multitasking. He is a syndicated columnistauthor, CNN contributor, and senior analyst with “The Tom Joyner Morning Show,” all in addition to his role as host and managing editor of the only Sunday morning talk show geared to black Americans.

The juggling appears to be paying off. Ratings for his Sunday news program, TV One’s “Washington Watch with Roland Martin” are up 35 percent and pacing 27 percent ahead of last season, according to Nielsen figures cited in a network press release.

Martin signed a development deal with CNN to create a weekend show, but the network nixed it in May 2009, Martin told me during a recent visit. In 2011, MSNBC announced it would launch its own daily news program led by the Rev. Al Sharpton, a move that several black journalists blasted.

“It doesn’t make sense that Al Sharpton (who isn’t a journalist) is the only African American hosting his own show. All we want is the opportunity, but all we get to hear are excuses,” said Martin who, along with long-time friend and former TV One President and CEO Johnathan Rodgers, launched “Washington Watch” three months after CNN ditched the idea.

More black Americans get their news from television than whites or Hispanics, according to a “Trends in News Consumption” report issued in September by the Pew Research Center.

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