Roland Martin Scolds Black Media For Not Securing Sources: Here’s Why He’s Wrong

Roland Martin Scolds Black Media For Not Securing Sources: Here’s Why He’s Wrong


Roland Martin, Saint Louis University

Veteran journalist and commentator Roland Martin recently criticized Black media, raising concerns about Black media outlets needing more thorough sourcing and credibility.

While Martin’s concerns are valid, his criticism warrants a deeper dive. Narrowing in on Black media without looking at the overall dire state of digital media seems shortsighted. Digital media is hanging on by a few keystrokes–if it isn’t dead already. Considering that well-funded such as BuzzFeed News and Vice are among the latest causalities, one can only imagine how difficult it must be for Black digital media to hang on.

BuzzFeed News and Vice “were early evidence of media’s great transformation towards more diverse, fragmented, authentic content designed around specific communities of interest,” Ben Essen, chief strategy officer at digital marketing agency Iris, which counts Samsung, Adidas, Bentley and Pizza Hut among its clientele, emphasized to The Drum. “But given the natural result of this trajectory, we ended up with an ever larger number of smaller media businesses.”

One of the key challenges facing digital media today is the shifting business model and industry dynamics. The digital media business model just isn’t modeling.

Most journalists crave the time and resources to examine the issues they cover. Most have neither.

Martin posted a series of tweets centered around Sean “Diddy” Combs coverage in Black media.

He tweeted, “Another example of Black-owned media doing no due diligence and believing anything. As I reported yesterday, the sale of @revolttv has NOT been finalized. Damn, does anybody actually call to CHECK FACTS? Or do we just follow anything @TMZ says? TURBLE journalism.”

Besides critiquing The Source, Martin also complained about Black Enterprise’s coverage.

“What did I say yesterday? #WeTriedToTellYa This @blackenterprise story on @revolttv is WRONG. Here they quote @TMZ. It has NOT been sold. This story doesn’t include ONE quote from a BE interview. So you slap a byline on this? I told ya aggregation by Black-owned media is BULLSHIT,” he tweeted.

In another series of tweets, he started, “Do you know what else pisses me off about this byline @blackenterprise aggregation story? NOTHING in the article shows that the BE reporter even called @revolttv to get a comment on the sale. NOTHING! It is 100% a rewrite of the @TMZ story. This is piss poor journalism.”

He followed up by flexing his editorial credentials, not seemingly noting the changing landscape from when he probably worked in editorial. Staffs are smaller, outlets must deliver fast-paced news to compete online, and budgets are tighter, meaning fewer research resources. On top of this, Black media outlets receive fewer ad dollars. If they had more ad revenue it would help them better compete in today’s digital media world. But, this isn’t only a problem for Black media.

As The Moguldom Nation tweeted, “When you start to frame a broader industry problem as something Black-specific, you are part of the PROBLEM. The digital media business models have been BROKEN. Don’t walk into a graveyard and expect to see LIFE. Now, go at Biden, Kamala, and the Democratic Party and call something in that direction BULLSHIT. Let’s see that.”

Martin finished his series of tweets with, “I’ve been the top editor at the Houston Defender, Dallas Weekly, Chicago Defender, http://BlackAmericaWeb.com, News editor at Savoy Magazine, news director at KKDA in Dallas, managing editor of @tvonetv’s Washington Watch and NewsOneNow. If a reporter gave me this, they would…” He continued, “be one step from being fired. This is beyond shameful for someone to put their name on a rewritten @tmz story. The editor should be cussed out along with the writer. Black-owned media MUST do better than horrible aggregation. Excuse me if I believe in damn standards!”

Roland Martin, Saint Louis University, https://www.slu.edu/news/2019/november/noted-journalist-roland-martin-to-keynote-2020-mlkjr-tribute.php