Time For Change

News One Now: Roland Martin Wants to Change the News

The news isn’t black and white. Enter ex-CNN contributor Roland Martin, whose new show News One Now aims to bring a little diversity to the mix.

Frederick M. Brown/Getty

“Rarely is anything just black and white,” says Roland Martin, the former CNN contributor and current Tom Joyner Morning Show reporter. He says his new hourlong morning show, News One Now, will give people the variety they deserve when it comes to current affairs.

The outspoken journalist, who also hosts a three-hour syndicated radio program on Radio One stations, will debut his new show on the TV One network early next month.

“Too many news shows today break down the debate and issues by the political affiliations,’’ said Martin. “It’s mostly about Democrats’ vs. Republicans’ ideals, and I think, I know rather, a lot gets lost when it is limited to just those two points of views.” News One Now will feature a Skype Net, in which all Radio One hosts will weigh in on the news of the week.

The Washington, D.C., based Martin says oftentimes news shows just want the conflict of heated opposite opinions for ratings sake alone.

“It makes for good television some might think,” said Martin. “But are any true resolutions discovered when that is the only platform?”

Martin, the 2013 National Association of Black Journalists’ Journalist of the Year, adds that real and in-depth conversations about African-American issues often get lost in the daily and quick-moving chatter of a hectic 24-hour news cycle.

“Take the Trayvon Martin case. So much of that conversation was reduced to right-wing and left-wing ideas and opinions on what happened to that young man when there were so many different ways of covering the issue. The “stand your ground” law can be discussed for years to come, as can the discussion of how we educate and value our young black men. Those are issues that have to be discussed at length in the media. They aren’t over because the trial of George Zimmerman is over.”

Martin noted that while employed by CNN, he often noticed the lack of diverse perspectives in certain news stories and panel discussions when minorities were not a part of the discussion.

“If there wasn’t someone black on the program, no one would bring attention to the other side of the story. A different thought process or view would go completely missing from the conversation. When diversity is lacking, so much falls through the cracks in terms of what is offered to the viewing audience to think about. My show will fill some of that void I hope.’’

Martin’s contract with CNN expired in April.

Martin has spent most of his career keenly focused on the most pressing issues facing African-Americans. He served as editor of the Chicago Defender, the city’s only historically black newspaper, and helmed the politically charged news show Washington Watch, on TV One until earlier this year.

“African-Americans are some of the most highly engaged cable news consumers, and it’s vital that we meet that thirst with a daily morning show that speaks to our issues, our concerns, from our perspective,” said Martin.

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Martin also addressed the failure of other African-American themed new shows on networks such as BET. Former CNN host T.J. Holmes’s news show Don’t Sleep was canceled by BET just a few months after it debuted in late 2012. Network executives said the show failed to draw a significant audience.

“Shows like this have to have support from the powers that be and given time to flourish,” says Martin. “That’s not always given when networks want instant results and instant ratings. But that’s the business of this business and I understand that.’’