Distinction in travel journalism
Is independent travel journalism important to you?
Click here to keep it independent

16 Mar, 2014

Indian TV anchor sees future global channel that will outgun BBC, CNN

Mumbai, 13 March, 2014 (FICCI media release): “From this country, in the next five to six years will emerge a channel so great, so technologically potent, so editorially confident, so slick in production and so wide in its appeal that it will give the BBC and the CNN a solid run for their money” declared Arnab Goswamy, to thundering applause from the packed audience at the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI) FRAMES 2014 convention here today.

Arnab was the keynote speaker and lone panellist at a session titled “The Electronic News Media: On Fine Balance?” that was anchored by Jon Sopel, Senior Anchor, BBC Global news. The session began on a hilarious note as Sopel discussed the comments he had heard about Arnab: “Cross between a Chinese dragon and the Loch Ness monster;… a bully and interested in no one’s opinion but his own … he is a torturer who beats you until you surrender to his viewpoint and analysis.”

His own research on Arnab’s anchoring revealed the latter to be a person who uses a surgeon’s scalpel, asking questions that have precision and a certain cool detachment. But if he had an imaginary scalpel in his hand, he also carried an imaginary cricket bat behind his back, with which he attacked anyone who did not answer him satisfactorily. These qualities made him the most watched, the most popular and most talked-of TV journalist in India today.

Arnab began on a light note, saying that he was humbled that Sopel had called someone who was described as the most self-opinionated journalist in the country to discuss the art of fine balance on television. He went on to give a powerful speech, representing the new India. He shared six thoughts and principles with the audience:

1) TV news has changed forever. His advice to those who were trying to change it back was to stop trying. That change came about one afternoon in 2006, when a six year old boy called Prince fell into a ditch in Kurukshetra. Arnab decided to open up his phone lines and sms channels. Within a few minutes, every phone was buzzing in his tiny office in Lower Parel. He sensed that the country was imploding from within. And in that episode, he found his own voice and changed the approach to journalism.

2) Politicians will always be touchy about criticism, and journalists should not be touchy about politicians being touchy about criticism. “Take them on without malice,” he goaded.

3) Do not be embarrassed about having an opinion. Opinion is important. “The day you give up your point of view, you will be compromised,” he said.

4) There is a complete change in the nature of storytelling. He was critical about movies like Peepli Live that caricatured the television media. “Such people neither understand news, nor do they have passion for their country,” he charged. Real journalism involved exposing stories like the rape of a 17 year old girl by an MLA, with charges framed against her by the local police station for making a complaint. There was no sensationalism in that.

5) News is a form of social contact. “We unify,” said Arnab. He described how he had exposed the issue of corruption a whole year before India Against Corruption came into being. He asked the programme anchor to go around the auditorium and ask people when their minds opened up to corruption; he was confident that they would say it was because of the media.

6) Arnab’s last point was a plea. He requested those present to criticise the media for all that they did wrong, but also accept that the country is changing. Media is not an agent of change, but a great social unifier. It makes people talk and think.

Arnab’s speech was followed by a lively round of questions to which he replied with a straight bat. When asked about interviewing Narendra Modi on his channel, he disclosed that he is trying very hard and will be disappointed if he does not get him before the elections. When asked by a lady, amidst loud applause, why he does not give his audience 30 seconds to speak on his programmes, he replied that he would give them 30 seconds tonight.