Source: Janelle Harris / TVNewser
Roland Martin doesn’t care if you like him, and the longer he’s a political analyst and social commentator with a national platform and a vested interest in black America, he cares a little bit less than he already never did. He’s clear on this one thing, which has propelled a respectable career in the media business: his job as host of two TV One news shows is to be the provocateur for issues that sometimes stand out with neon urgency, sometimes seethe covertly but most often necessitate deeper conversation. So long as he’s factually on point, he is politically correct, at least as far as he’s concerned.
Still, what he calls being straightforward has seen him fall out of favor more than a few times, with both media bosses and the public. In 2012, CNN suspended Martin, then under contract as an analyst for the network, for tweets deemed offensive and homophobic. Now celebrating his one-year anniversary at TV One, the triple-threat journo — who remains a CNN contributor — is always stretching his skillset. “I take the journalism stuff, the tech stuff, the content creation and put it all together. I think, ‘How can I broaden this material and make it even more interesting or inviting to our audience?’ I’m always thinking about pushing the envelope,” he said.
Here, he talks multiplatform journalism, getting facts straight and making the call in the moment.
How has your early career in print and radio helped you in your role as TV news host?
My mind functions as a news executive, producer and host all at the same time. When Dr. Maya Angelou passed, I got tweets asking if it was true. I’m used to Twitter hoaxes, so I went to Google and saw two or three stories, none from a major news source. Then I saw My FOX 8, the local affiliate [in Winston-Salem, where Angelou lived], who quoted the mayor saying Maya Angelou passed away. I made the call to go with the story. I didn’t even tell the executive producers. When I came on the air, we scrapped the rest of the show to dedicate [the time] to Maya Angelou. We had 35 minutes left, so I called our last news panel back in and my producer took my phone to invite Ambassador Andrew Young, Susan Taylor and Ingrid Saunders Jones to call in to the show, all in that 35-minute window.
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