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Being a Multimedia Journalist

By August 2009Comments

Roland Martin
Courtesy of CNN

NAME: Roland Martin | AGE: 40 | HOMETOWN: Houston | QUALIFICATIONS: CNN contributor / Nationally syndicated columnist / Special correspondent for Essence magazine / Senior analyst for the Tom Joyner Morning Show / Blogger for Essence.com / Constantly updates his Web site, Twitter feed, YouTube channel, and Facebook fan page

• The first time I was on television was when KTRK-TV did a story on my parents and others launching a civic club in the Clinton Park neighborhood in Houston. I was eleven or twelve. So my experience with television goes back a long way.

• I’ve never wanted to be limited to one medium. I attended Jack Yates High School, in Houston, a magnet school for communications that had a television station, a radio station, and a newspaper. Instead of choosing one track, I did all three, and I’ve been that way ever since.

• Now all the media have converged. If I go to an event, I’ll talk about it on television, record a radio segment about it, upload photos of it to my Web site, blog about it, and write an actual piece for a print publication.

• You have to work in all these media because our world has changed. For years, people only got their information from a few sources—a daily newspaper, a local television station, a particular magazine. Consumers are now dictating how they want to receive information and when they want it. They no longer care about our predetermined schedules.

• When you’re an analyst, you can go for broke. I don’t backpedal, and I don’t eat crow. If I take a position, I’m going to defend it to the hilt, and I’m not going to back down from it.

• I don’t believe that impartiality and objectivity actually exist.

• The only interviews I don’t enjoy are when I’m dealing with a lightweight celebrity. I interviewed an athlete once who was upset because I wasn’t very interested in him. I said, “Dude, I’ve interviewed people who can blow up countries. You bounce a basketball.”

• My favorite interview that I ever did was in 1998, when I was the managing editor of the Dallas Weekly. It was with Tiger Woods’s father, Earl Woods. He was intimidating, funny, serious, lighthearted, and philosophical all in the same conversation. I asked him, “How have you prepared Tiger for the day you are not going to be here?” He said, “Even when I’m gone, Tiger will always hear my voice in his head at any moment in his life.” I was like, damn! It was just an amazing interview.

• When I filled in for Campbell Brown on No Bias, No Bull this spring, I really wasn’t the centerpiece. There were five of us, in essence, handling the show—sort of like a dinner party without the food and the drinks.

• I have two BlackBerrys. One is personal and one is for CNN. Typically, I tell people, “If you need something, e-mail or text me.” I hate having to talk to people because it takes forever. That’s why I love text messages; you have 140 characters and that’s it. You don’t have time for extraneous conversation.

• I’ve got my eye on seven hundred acres in Buffalo that I’ve been looking at for ten years. It’s between Houston and Dallas. It’s gorgeous. That is the goal. Make as much money as possible to get back home.

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