Payday loans

Truth, lies and the Internet

06/02/2009 5:24 pm 7 comments

When I was executive editor and general manager of the Chicago Defender, we ran a story that was initially reported by the Medill News Service, which is run by students from Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism in Chicago.

The story involved a hospital executive in the city and mentioned something that took place when he worked in Washington, D.C. about 20 years previously. He called me and told me that the story was an absolute lie, but because it was a major paper, he never bothered to call to demand a correction.
My response? “Never allow things to be said about you that are lies because someone later can assume it was a fact and it will come back to bite you.”
He agreed that makes perfect sense, and we subsequently ran a correction.
With the Internet, such lies can bounce around the world, and if left unchallenged, can take on a life of its own.
Two recent examples regarding me prove this to be the truth.
First, the New York Post ran an article last week stating that I had complained to CNN executives that when I was filling in for Campbell Brown, I complained about not getting enough promotion for the show and the booking of A-list guests.
When I was sent the link, I started laughing at the item on the Post’s Page Six gossip page because it was an absolute lie. Never in the two months I hosted the show did I say anything to anyone about promos for the show or the booking of A-list guests. FLAT OUT lie is what I called it in an interview with journalist Julie Menin, and to Richard Prince’s Journal-isms.
Today, I was asked about it by Tom Joyner, as well as Guy Black on his morning show in Los Angeles. My response was the same.
Just a few moments ago, I saw a blog post by a “journalist” who I thought was a credible guy, but that has now been called into question.
Jimi Izrael is an opinion writer who has always been edgy and irreverent in his pieces. His style is one that I never taken to, but that’s the beauty of this business; we can have multiple viewpoints and styles to meet a diversified audience.
Yet what struck me was an absolute lie Jimi actually tried to pass off as the truth.
In a post on The Root, Izreal wrote about one of our first encounters a few years ago: “He was wearing a dashiki, walking around selling something he called a ‘black power pack:’ a bag of incense, a hunk of jerky meat and one of his self-published books. That’s a true effing story.”
Now, the truth.
Was I wearing a dashiki? If you want to call it that. I was wearing one of the many traditional African outfits I have. I wore them prior to CNN, and still wear them now. (In fact, when I spoke to the Gary, Indiana NAACP chapter Saturday night, I wore a black and gold traditional African outfit, and also sold my book. And when I speak to the Cocoa Beach, Fla. NAACP chapter Friday night, I’ll likely wear another. I’m deciding on the color now). And if you’re wondering, I did wear one on CNN. When the Rev. Jeremiah Wright Sr. spoke to the Detroit NAACP last year, CNN wanted me to offer comment about the speech. I had on my white and gold outfit, and wasn’t about to change. So I went on the air with it. Hey, if you want me, you have to take all of me.
Now, back to Jimi’s lies.
It was pretty dumb to assert that I was walking around selling incense and beef jerky. One, I’ve never done such a thing – ever – so why in the hell would I start. If that’s your thing, cool, but it’s not mine. Not only that, I hate beef jerky! And the last time I even burned incense, it had to have been the early 90s.
So I decided to write Jimi, hoping he would have the decency as a journalist to correct this obvious lie. His response? He claims others remember the same story, and he would let it stand. I demanded of him to ask who else could corroborate an obvious lie, and he said I made the pitch to another journalist during a 2002 convention in Milwaukee.
Now, you might say this is no big deal, but the reality is a lie is a lie. That’s what I teach my nieces and nephews. Not only that, as journalists, all we have is our credibility, and when it is questioned and a lie is exposed, then people can doubt everything else we put out. The manly thing to do is go back, check your notes, refresh your memory, check around, and try to confirm your initial thoughts. If someone vigorously disputes the facts as you present them, then you need to back it up.
As far as I’m concerned, Jimi and the writer for the NY Post are the same: individuals passing themselves off as journalists who don’t deserve to carry the title. For them to publish lies is not what people expect of us. They expect the truth.
As for you, the reader, if you’re ever in a position where someone has decided to publish a story about you, and there is something false, don’t say, “Oh, it’s no big deal.” No matter how large or small, facts do matter, and you should never allow someone to get away with it, whether it’s a major daily newspaper or a small-time blogger.
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  • http://shruglife.blogspot.com Mr. Noface

    You were right to confront the “journalist” because of course in this internet age, a rumor or lie can quickly become the truth in proportion to the sites that repeat it as such. When left unchecked these lies gain a life of their own. For instance, there are still people that believe that a certain pop star beat his pop star girlfriend up because she gave him herpes.

  • demp109

    Wow Roland must be moving on up in the world of journalism. They are taking pot shots and trying to take a brother down!! Its too bad they don’t know you or your audience! This is just a reminder to put on the whole armour of God!! Holla!!!

  • Jimmy

    Roland, you should never have been a fill-in for Brown. She is awful, you have more personality & rapport, especially with your panel. Time for CNN to give you your own show.

  • Linda Hutherson

    Hi Roland!

    As to what you blogged about regarding the “journalist” who misrepresented a description of you, so what???

    I know you are not going to sweat it. After all, we have no control over what others say or write about us, do we? Apparently he has issues that are NOT about YOU!

    Anyone wanting to know who Roland Martin is, can do what I do- look and see what you express in your writings or sayings. You seem like a pretty smart, knowledgeable guy to me!

    And, by the way, I just wrote a scathing essay in response to some white bigot who had the audacity to call YOU RACIST! (He was responding to what you said about people who have died like the bigoted politicians. like Jesse Helms etc,

    Keep up the good work!

  • Jim Raftery

    Dear Mr. Martin,
    Speaking of lies, perhaps you remember this?

    Jim Raftery
    Meridian, Idaho

    April 19, 2009

    Mr. Jim Walton
    President, CNN
    1 CNN Center
    Atlanta, GA 30303

    Dear Mr. Walton,
    Recently I sent CNN an email complaining that it appeared that a CNN commentator had stolen a 750 word story idea I had sent to vcm@cnn.com on April 13 and adapted it (without credit) for their own story appearing on April 16.

    Uncredited plagiarism is a serious charge, especially for a major news outlet, and yet no one from CNN has responded. I guess I would point out that there is nothing on your “Send a story idea” form at http://www.cnn.com/feedback/forms/form11b.html?1
    that indicates that stories/story ideas sent to you becomes your sole property.

    While the stories have differences, in a mere one-page, 750 word article the following three major similarities appear:

    My key points (story sent to CNN April 13):
    1. My story title: The Hypocrisy of the Cuban Embargo
    2. comparing how we treat Cuba with how we treat another repressive communist country (Vietnam)
    3. The effect of the Cuban-American population in Florida on the vote on the embargo

    Roland Martin’s Key points (article published April 16):
    1. Roland Martin’s story title: Let’s end our hypocrisy on Cuba
    2. comparing how we treat Cuba with how we treat another repressive communist country (changed to China)
    3. The effect of the Cuban-American population in Florida on the vote on the embargo

    In such a brief article, such a “coincidence” on three key points seems, shall we say, “remarkable.

  • Tom Golson

    Shame on you Roland, you have been stiring the pot for two day’s now trying to turn this officer into a Racist. The truth is you are the one thats been profiling yourself as a racist by not listening to both sides of the story and responding like the smart man I like to listen to. You made your decision as fast as the president made his. I am very disappointed in Obama as he stated WE are still suffering and thats why these quick decisions are made. That is not an exact quote but close! You said why did he drop the charges if he wasn’t worried about racism and I agree with that. He knew it would come up because it always does and was happening from the moment he was asked for I.D. If a white president would have come out with both gun’s drawn as Obama did we would have had to have had him impeached. STOP being a racist yourself and we might have a better chance. I voted for the president and still have no regrets but I don’t have the same warm fuzzy feeling I had when voting him into office. I also will not stop watching you because we disagree on this but I feel ashamed that we haven’t come any where near as far as I had hoped. Thank you

  • Thomas Leachman

    You are are right

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