“Mr Modi, when are you giving me the big interview you promised?”: Rajdeep Sardesai

He is one of Indian television’s most recognisable face as a news presenter and now the author of the best seller ‘2014: The Election That Changed India’. Rajdeep Sardesai may have quit Network18 as IBN18 editor in chief and later on joining the India Today Group as consulting editor, but the man with over 26 years of experience in the field continues to be recognised for his work.

Sardesai was honoured with the Asian TV Award on 11 December for ‘The Best News Presenter’ for his coverage on the counting day of the general elections.

 The award is a special one for him as he becomes the first Indian to receive the recognition. On the occasion, in a quick chat with’s Herman Gomes, Sardesai speaks about the recognition and upcoming plans for the New Year.

Your feelings on receiving the award? Do you see Indian journalism receiving its due credit?

When I was with NDTV, The Big Fight had won the Asian TV Award, three times in a row. At CNN-IBN, India at 9 and our election coverage had won awards for the best news coverage and best current affairs, but to win an individual award as the ‘Best News Presenter’ feels special. Being nominated with icons from CNN, Discovery, Nat Geo and CNBC, along with Chinese and Korean TV, makes it special. I feel honoured to be honoured as the only Indian.

Are awards and recognition important for journalism?

Being the first Indian to receive an award like this, feels nice, but only for a moment. Journalism is not about winning awards but about work or the interview you do.  Elections after all is a team game. The award is also for all those who worked with me as a team at my old organisation, CNN IBN.

Any celebrations planned?

I am going to have a quiet dinner when my son returns from his hostel. I am planning to take him out for dinner next weekend.  I owe a lot to the family.

How well is your book ‘2014:The Election That Changed India’ been performing on the shelves?

The book as of last week was placed at number two in the non-fiction category, behind Sachin Tendulkar’s autobiography: ‘Playing It My way’.  It has been on the best seller list for six weeks. I am told that in one month it has sold more than any other nonfiction political book of 2014. I am taking the book across the country for various promotions and lit fests.  On the weekends I promote the book while on weekdays I am caught up anchoring my show. It’s a packed week!

Are politicians affected by the revelations in the book?

Interestingly I find the Congress politicians having more problems with the book than BJP. The BJP politicians had feared the book, but Congress seems to be unhappy now.

How has the state of journalism changed over the last one year?

One of the continuing fears I have is the tendency to sensationalise. That continues to remain a trend and has not stopped. This is what I call window journalism, where you have eight people in a window, talking at each other rather than talking to each other.

But at the same time there is some good work being done. But the sad part is it does not get the due recognition, because some of the less important work dominates the more worthy work.

We are destroying our credibility in the long run.

How do you view the growth for online journalism?

My belief is that digital is going to see a big revolution in the next few years. It will not happen overnight but will take two to three years.

Are there chances of you joining back CNN-IBN?

There are no such plans. 2014 has been a roller coaster year for me. Our election coverage is being recognised at the Asian level. The book was a high point while my departure from CNN IBN was an unfortunate one. 

It has been six months since the new government came to power. Do you think Aache Din Aa Gaye?

Ache Sitare Aa Gaye, ache din we don’t know. Maybe next year. It’s too early to judge.

One question you would want to ask the Prime Minister Narendra Modi?

Mr Modi, when are you giving me the big interview you promised?

How do you see the year ahead for the Indian media and how are you planning to welcome the New Year?

I view the year 2015 as the year of introspection for the media including myself. 2014 has been a year of excitement. I am welcoming 2015 by going to Goa and resting by the beach.

For this year do you want to be known as Rajdeep Sardesai: the journalist or the author?

I want to be known as a journalist who has written a bestselling book!

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