Television

Do you want argumentative or sophisticated media, asks Arnab Goswami

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MUMBAI: India, with the help of advanced technology, editorial sophistication and big global channels is on threshold of becoming the media capital of the world before 2020, and will take on BBC, CNN and other global channels, dreams Republic TV news presenter and editor Arnab Goswami.

“India is the only country where media can question anyone on any subject including religion, the kind of journalism that we practice, the way we go overboard, boldness being shown by journalists across the nation and bringing out the truth is helping media become an agent of social change. This will also help us become a global media platform before 2020. That is my dream," Goswami said while speaking at an interactive session “News as an Agent of Change’ organised by FICCI Ladies Organisation (FLO) here.

“Delhi city has helped me grow in my career as I have spent nine and a half years of my professional life here and I always felt that it was not a city that supported pure merit. “In 2000-2001, I was about to quit this profession. I was frustrated as a journalist since I felt I was a cog in the wheel. Shifting base to Mumbai helped me do my kind of journalism and what we do is possible for bringing in social change because I was physically separated from the centre of power. This city has taught me the value of merit, independence and professionalism. I owe everything that I am today and everything that I can be to Delhi and Mumbai," he said.

“The television media has made politicians accountable for their doings. We play a conscious role towards being a force-multiplier for social movements. Such was the case during the India Against Corruption movement, in which Anna Hazare, Kiran Bedi, Arvind Kejriwal and Prashant Bhushan came together. Today, when the media questions Kejriwal as a politician, people ask me, "Have you forgotten that you are the same people who put Kejriwal on a pedestal?" But, I never supported Arvind Kejriwal. I supported the fight against corruption. Our support was for the Lokpal movement and not for a group that wanted to become a political party,” said Goswami.

“It’s always a tough decision to take the path less travelled. Rival channels have always accused me of being over the top and presenting a dumbed-down version of the news. However, I am a firm believer in my form of journalism -- which does not believe in the ‘underhand delivery’. I look upon us as new-age journalists. It is my responsibility to throw a googly or bouncer to those in power once in a while,” he said.

Goswami shared an anecdote which he termed “another mistake” in his career. This incident happened when actor Sanjay Dutt was being transported from Mumbai’s Arthur Road Jail to Pune’s Yerwada prison. “I sent my reporters and camerapersons to cover Dutt’s story. While I was having my lunch, I got a phone call from someone in Bengaluru, who had been following my career and Times Now since a long time. He vowed never to watch my channel again. I was surprised and asked him why. He said that his best friend, Colonel Vasanth Venugopal had died in a combat with terrorists. But, not a single news channel had bothered to cover the martyrdom of this man. I was shocked and apologised to him. Suddenly, the whole Dutt drama looked puerile to me. I invited the man to come on my programme, and he agreed.”

But, Goswami was in for a surprise. Before he went live, he asked his producer if the guest was ready. His producer replied, “Yes, she is ready”. Goswami told him it was a man, who had called up but his producer interrupted and said, “Col. Venugopal’s wife, Subhashini, decided to come on your programme.”

Goswami recalled, “Here was a lady, who had cremated her husband four hours ago. What do I ask her? I started off by asking some opening questions. She spoke for 10 minutes from her heart – about her husband, about how proud she was of him and about her children. I got a call from Col. J. J. Singh, who was the chief of army staff at that time. He asked me for the brave lady’s number. The incident changed my perspective of journalism forever.”

Towards the end of his speech, Goswami posed a thought-provoking question: “What kind of media do you want? Do you want this media, irrespective of how noisy, argumentative and difficult it is? Or, would you like to have the tame, quiet and sophisticated media that bowls underhand deliveries?”

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