“We had to make a tough decision to suspend a show we all love,” said Michelle L. Rice, TV One's interim general manager. “Despite the best efforts of the many talented people who work on this amazing show day-to-day, 'NewsOne Now' struggled to attract a wide audience. Like any other network, we had to make a difficult choice.”
Many of the biggest stories of 2017, especially in politics, had a clear racial angle. And on the program's final episode, host Roland Martin shared why he thought having journalists dedicated to the topic of race in America was essential.
“We need to have somebody who has a clear vision, who wakes up black, who thinks black,” he said. “I would often tell my staff you got to wake up black. That doesn't mean black skin, but your thought, your consciousness has to be black in terms of how you see the world, how you see the news. That's why this show is different.”
The absence of this “difference” may have a significant impact on black Americans seeking to understand how certain issues affect them, according to leaders at the National Association of Black Journalists. Many viewers of color have already been concerned about decreased interest in their voices as some outlets appear to have prioritized the perspectives of white, pro-Trump commentators in the current political climate.
“When anything is happening that impacts African Americans, you can turn to TV One for perspectives you won't see on other programs,” said Dorothy Tucker, the organization's vice president of broadcast, in a statement. “The demise of Roland's show leaves a huge void that we simply can't afford now.”
Organizations that monitor media diversity have lamented about the limited number of diverse voices in the mainstream media for years. Some of those concerns were raised recently in an Asian American Journalists Association report on media diversity.
“Minorities now make up 17 percent of the workforce among newsrooms that responded to ASNE’s survey in 2016. That’s far less diverse than the nation’s population, which is 39 percent minority. No newspapers we surveyed have workforces that fully reflect their coverage area’s diversity,” according to the AAJA report.
Despite the show's suspension, TV One chief executive Alfred Liggins said that continuing to provide a platform for black voices is in the company's DNA. But how Martin will be involved in TV One's political coverage moving forward is unclear.
“We know there is a void in mainstream media, and we plan to continue to be an outlet for black news. Roland Martin will be a part of that plan,” Liggins said.
For Martin, who made headlines himself when he hosted a CNN/TV One town hall during the presidential race, that plan will include holding the President accountable for the impact of his polices, comments and agenda on black Americans.
Before signing off Thursday, the veteran journalist and commentator took a moment to give Trump a final warning: “And let me tell you something right now to Donald Trump: You will see me in 2020, because I'm telling you right now, #TeamWhipThatA** will be there at every turn because I will not allow anybody to silence my voice.”