Television

“TV news has changed and it won’t change back”

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MUMBAI:  “It’s ironical that a journalist who has been labelled as ‘self opinionated’ has been called for the session on ‘The electronic news media: on fine balance?’” began television’s most vociferous anchor and Times Now editor-in-chief, who has often faced criticism for his in-your-face brand of journalism.

Arnab Goswami was just being himself when he wondered aloud why he had been invited to deliver the keynote at the ongoing FICCI Frames 2014.

Taking centre stage, he proceeded to narrate the incident that made Times Now a household name and the six mantras that he bears in mind at all times.

“To all my critics I say that TV news has changed, and it won’t change back,” Goswami said to a loud applause from the audience.

He recalled how Times Now had relentlessly pursued the story of a small child called Prince who fell into a borewell in 2006 to get people to take the channel seriously. At the time, the channel had become the butt of jokes for the political class. “In 2006, we were mocked by politicians who termed us as ‘Times When’ rather than ‘Times Now’ and I then found my voice through Prince,” said the presenter notorious for his irreverent style.

Goswami went on to explain that the reason behind making Prince the talking point for days on end was to highlight the preferential treatment meted out to children of politicians and corporates vis-a-vis the common man of India.

With the same passion (some call it aggression) that he displays while moderating his much viewed debates, Goswami revealed the six rules he keeps close to his heart. “The old media is dead or it is dying”; “Politicians will always be touchy to criticism; you don’t be touchy about their touchiness”; “Opinion is important; I believe in opinion without prejudice”; “TV story telling has changed”; “News is a form of social content” and “We make people talk and think”.

The man who repeatedly drowns out all other voices on his show had to face a volley of questions at the session anchored by BBC senior correspondent Jon Sopel.

When asked why he didn’t think of becoming a politician, Goswami quipped that he wanted to enter people’s ‘mindspace’.

In reply to a question about the forthcoming elections, he said he would be unhappy if he didn’t get to interview Gujarat Chief Minister and BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi before the polls. He also said he wished the interview with Congress’ Rahul Gandhi had turned out better.

Goswami revealed that from the beginning of April, Times Now would embark on a series aimed at unearthing the skeletons in people’s closets, in a bid to make them accountable for their actions or words.

On the subject of journalism, he said there was a dearth of talent in the profession as the new generation was hungry for more assertive media. “Let me tell you that 2014 to 2025 is going to be the most amazing time for TV news to come,” he concluded.

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