The National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) has named Roland Martin, a nationally syndicated columnist and television host, Journalist of the Year. The coveted award and others will be bestowed at the association's Salute to Excellence Gala on Aug. 3, during NABJ's 38th Annual Convention and Career Fair in Orlando, Fla.
"Roland Martin has had an enviable career as a multimedia journalist, becoming a respected and trusted voice in print, on air and online," said NABJ President Gregory Lee Jr. "He is unapologetic about his quest to provide well-rounded coverage of the African-American community, and to provide unique insights to diverse audiences across the many platforms on which he is asked to contribute on a regular basis."
The announcement came a week before Martin’s last on-air appearance with Cable News Network (CNN) where he has been one of the best-known Black news analysts and on-air commentators. His contract with the network is not being renewed. That development comes as the network, under new management, has come under fire for a lack of diversity among its on-air performers.
Though he is recognized as a CNN contributor, Martin’s experience primarily is in the Black press. He is currently host and managing editor of TV One's “Washington Watch with Roland Martin,” and a senior analyst for “The Tom Joyner Morning Show.” Earlier in his career, Martin was a radio talk show host for WVON-AM in Chicago and he once served as the executive editor and general manager of The Chicago Defender, one of the nation's oldest Black newspapers. Martin also was the founding news editor for Savoy Magazine, and the founding editor of BlackAmericaWeb.com.
"I hope this honor serves as a lesson to any young or veteran journalist that Black media platforms are just as essential and important to us today as they have always been,” Martin said in a statement. “…It pleases me greatly to be at a place where our voices and images are the norm, and not the exception. I'm enormously thankful for the opportunity."
In nominating Martin, NABJ’s board of directors cited his advocacy on critical issues facing voters, particularly African-American voters, in the 2012 election. Martin gave particular urgency to concerns of voter suppression, perhaps the biggest story of the 2012 presidential election.
"No other African-American journalist and member of NABJ brought more news and analysis to Black communities about the most important story of 2012 than Roland Martin," said Vanessa Williams, former NABJ President and an editor at The Washington Post, in a statement. "As managing editor and host of “Washington Watch” on TV One, Roland consistently offered journalism that reflected the hopes and fears of many African-American voters as they anxiously watched to see whether Barack Obama would win a second term as president of the United States."
In addition to being a journalist, Martin is also a published author of three books: Listening to the Spirit Within: 50 Perspectives on Faith, Speak, Brother! A Black Man's View of America, and The First: President Barack Obama's Road to the White House as originally reported by Roland S. Martin.
A lifetime member of the National Association of Black Journalists, Martin served as the organization's first national student representative, and as national secretary of the board from 2009 until 2011.
Martin is a graduate of Texas A&M University and Louisiana Baptist University. He is married to the Rev. Jacquie Hood Martin, with whom he resides in Washington, D.C.