Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage from

Media's royal wedding crush is pathetic

By Roland S. Martin, CNN Senior Political Contributor
  • Roland Martin: Media coverage of engagement of Prince William was over the top
  • He says it's an entertaining story but didn't deserve top billing on the news
  • Journalists can't complain about the public's taste in news if they hype trivial events, he says

Editor's note: Roland Martin is a syndicated columnist and author of "The First: President Barack Obama's Road to the White House." He is a commentator for TV One Cable network and host of a Sunday morning news show.

(CNN) -- As a second-generation caterer, I would ordinarily be peacock proud and hyena happy about the prospects of anyone getting married. Yet when I saw the obese coverage around the wedding announcement of Britain's Prince William and his fiancée, Kate Middleton, I felt it was sickening to watch.

There was no one television broadcast or cable network that was more egregious than the other. Frankly, all were shameful with the level of attention given to the announcement of next year's nuptials. It's wrong for anyone to suggest that Prince William isn't a newsmaker, but this wedding is more entertainment than politics or hard news. Yet this was the lead story on NBC's evening newscast? Really?

It was more perplexing considering the announcement was reported on the same day that President Barack Obama awarded the first Medal of Honor to a living soldier since Vietnam. With the United States engaged in two wars, and so much attention being put on our soldiers, it made perfect sense for the national media to turn everyone's attention to one of our own, Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta of Iowa.

After the royal engagement coverage, how can today's journalists seriously complain about the softening of news and about more Americans caring about gossip and photos of celebrities walking down the street to buy a cup of coffee rather than paying attention to the news that truly affects their lives?

Look, I get the mammoth ratings from the wedding of Prince Charles and Princess Diana in 1981. But what we have seen this week has been ridiculous.

More opinion on topics in the news

In the media we often talk about news judgment. It is all subjective, based on the person or persons who make the decisions in each respective newsroom.

Salvatore Giunta gets Medal of Honor
Britain's royal engagement
Prince William, Kate to marry in April
Royal wedding details announced

I can guarantee you that if I had my own TV show or was an executive producing one, the royal wedding wouldn't have made it into the first block. No doubt it would have been mentioned, but it would have been beyond me to put a wedding announcement of a royal couple from another country at the top of an American newscast.

Longtime journalist Ted Koppel recently blasted the opinion-driven TV shows on Fox and MSNBC, and Democratic Sen. Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia went so far as saying the two should be shut down. Frankly, I find the latter to be nonsensical, but it is important that we sometimes step back and say, "Are we contributing to the dumbing down of the public by virtue of some of our dumb news decisions?"

Let me be clear: There is a place for sports, entertainment and lifestyle-related stories. I disagree when someone suggests that such stories aren't news. They are news, just a different type of news. But there is such a thing as overkill, and when it came to the royal wedding announcement, my brothers and sisters in the media embarrassed themselves with the over-the-top coverage.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Roland S. Martin.

Part of complete coverage on
'Not the royal wedding' street party
A lot has changed since the 15th century, when Oliver Cromwell overthrew the monarchy. Today, British republicans fight with ... street parties.
The best moments of the royal wedding
From the walk down the aisle to the vows and kiss on the balcony, we show you the best moments from the royal wedding.
The big day in big pictures
From camping out in Hyde Park to highlights of the wedding ceremony, take a look at the day in photos
Hats off to royal wedding guests
The biggest fashion show on earth, the royal wedding, got underway in a riot of bright colors, flamboyant fascinators and larger-than-life hats
Wedding dress mystery solved
At last, it's revealed! Kate walks down the aisle in a timeless dress designed by Sarah Burton of Alexander McQueen.
Unveiled blog
Crazy memorabilia, the skinny on the dress and more! Your spot for all things royal wedding right now.
Across the pond, a reason to party
Americans woke up at dawn to attend royal wedding parties complete with tea, scones and in some cases, clipped British accents
Join CNN's wedding party!
Share your photos and video and be a part of the royal wedding with CNN and iReport!