Television

Top 12 news anchors who stood out during Covid2019

They created a lot of buzz among the masses, attracted conversation, and popularity

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MUMBAI: Indian news channels’Covid2019 and lockdown coverage has been panned by the naysayers. Some have painted it as falling short of being objective, others have labeled it as disastrous. Some have lauded the day-in-day-out incessant reportage as journos have gone from street to street, with their mask protected faces, gloved hands holding onto mikes, and giving updates from the virus plagued hotspots, overflowing hospitals and overburdened medical staff, as well as the hardships suffered by migrant labourer,  heading back to their villages.

Steering the conversations and the view of the channels have been a bunch of editors and anchors, specially those who have been on prime time broadcasts and have been indulging in important studio-debates, forcing the government and other machineries to act. Or react.

They have been pilloried, glorified, vilified, trolled, for whatever stance they have taken. If they have opined favorably on something that the government or community have done right, they have been bashed by hungry-to-knock-down-the-media wolf pack. This is even as they have been appreciated by hordes of  others.  If the journos have opposed the popular view, they have been kicked in their guts. Each statement, each word  they have stated has been scrutinized.  Many have resorted to grandstanding, some have been subdued, yet others have been balanced in their approach.

Most of them have gone about their jobs, no matter the flack they have faced. Being in the spotlight as they are daily, they have taken it as an occupational hazard. Indiantelevision.com has therefore decided to compile a list of anchors in no order of importance  or priority who created an impact, who had their voices heard, positively or negatively, and who constantly were in the news themselves, instead of just reporting  the news during the Covid2019 crisis on social and other media.  Read on. It may not be comprehensive, so we would appreciate your feedback.

1) Arnab Goswami

Arnab Goswami, the firebrand face of Indian TV journalism, who has become a brand unto himself owing to his inimitable way of presenting his daily night news debates, is loved and riled by different sections of the masses. He articulates his point well, and doesn't mince words when it comes to uttering truths that would seem unpalatable to many. Often subjected to online trolling for his style of anchoring and political positions, particularly in his nocturnal prime-time debates, Goswami remains a popular name in social media discussions as well.

Goswami was seen holding a strong right-leaning stance on issues during his Covid2019 reporting too, maintaining his popularity. However, certain unpleasant events like an alleged attack on him and wife Samyabrata Ray by alleged Youth Congress workers earned him negative publicity, too.

He was caught in a massive legal soup, as well, with many Congress local bodies filing FIRs against him, across various states, under various sections of IPC, including hurting religious sentiments, inciting hatred, and criminal defamation. Goswami had to eventually knock on the doors of the supreme court demanding a CBI investigation in the matter, which was denied. Several FIRs were also quashed for being similar in nature.

2) Barkha Dutt

There was a time when Barkha Dutt's name was among the top anchors of the country. After leaving NDTV, Dutt worked as an anchor and consulting editor with the Tiranga TV, funded by Congress leader Kapil Sibal. Her stint with the channel didn't last long.

Nowadays she has been active on her own YouTube channel MoJo Story. During the Covid2019 pandemic most of the TV news anchors have been working from studios. In contrast to them, Barkha decided to hit the roads, in the same manner how she used to do back then. With a crew of a handful people in a vehicle, Dutt has been travelling almost across north India to interview migrants to report about their problems and plights.

3) Ravish Kumar

The firebrand journalist from NDTV, whom many would like to call anti-national, or overtly critical of the ruling party's work, did not change a single thing about his reporting style even during these testing times. Apart from his usual prime-time appearance, he added another show called "Des Ki Baat", the first episode of which aired on 6 May.

In both of his shows, Kumar was seen talking about issues related to the masses, including a detailed coverage on the issues of migrant labourers. Due to his and the channel's dynamic reporting, many viewers came forward to help the underprivileged with food and essentials.

4) Sudhir Chaudhary

Zee News editor-in-chief Sudhir Chaudhary, who anchors a prime-time show called Daily News Analysis (DNA), was hitting headlines for his comments made on the Muslim community. Kerala police filed an FIR against Chaudhary for ‘offending’ the Muslim community during his show, wherein he explained various type of ‘Jihads’ in the community.

Terming it as a Pulitzer prize for telling the truth, Chaudhary tweeted that the FIR is politically motivated and an award for exposing inconvenient facts. He added, “A clear message for the media. If you don’t toe the decades-old the pseudo-secular line you’ll be behind bars.” These allegations were cheerfully received on the internet by Hindutva supporters, including BJP leader from Jammu and Kashmir Nirmal Singh.

However, soon after the FIR, Chaudhary did a special show where he was seen preaching Islam. On his primetime show he was seen educating his viewers about the five pillars of Islam.

5) Rubika Liyaquat

The senior anchor of ABP News Rubika Liyaquat is one of the prominent faces of the network and has been contributing to the rise of viewership of the channel with her prime-time show called Seedha Sawaal. The network has been at the centre of a controversy when Covid2019 was on the rise in the country; many accused the channel for misleading the migrants, leading to a mob gathering at Bandra station.

Liyaquat came up with a Facebook message, rejecting any communal angle to the migrant protest at Bandra railway station, while the channel reported the story in another way. She in her message said, “While taking responsibility, I can inform you that this issue is not a Jamaatwala, or the Hindu-Muslim issue. Not at all. This is an issue of distressed migrants who didn’t know what to do.”

Liyaquat has often been targeted by her own community for supporting the government. Unaffected by these allegations Liyaquat continues to speak her mind. While regularly tweeting about her shows and expressing her views, she also posts verses from the Quran.  In one of her tweets, she wrote: “Jihad primarily refers to the inner struggle of being a person of virtue and submission to God in all aspects of life.”

Every now and then she is heavily ridiculed owing to her Muslim identity. But this has not stopped Rubika from doing her work. She retweeted a tweet in which she has been praised: “It’s commendable how being a Muslim she’s bashing those #NizamuddinIdiots who are supporting & defending their Maulana Sahab & the Markaj.”

6) Rahul Kanwal

India Today news director Rahul Kanwal has been lately caught up in the storm of controversies after he carried out an investigation on "Madarsa Hotspots" in India amidst the spread of Covid2019 pandemic. He alleged that   Madarsas were hiding children in small rooms even after the Tablighi Jamaat fiasco.

Soon after this #ThooRahulKanwalThoo trended on Twitter and kanwal was brutally trolled by keyboard warriors for "dividing the victims of Covid2019 based on religion"

In other news, Telangana Minister for IT and Industries KT Rama Rao accused Kanwal of publishing false data on the number of PPE kits available in the state. Unfazed by these allegations Kanwal continues to do his work.  

7) Rajdeep Sardesai

India Today’s consulting editor and anchor Rajdeep Sardesai has been bringing prominent voices from different walks of life to the channel for their input on the crisis, some them include Indian-origin Nobel Laureate in economists Abhijit Banerjee and Ramon Magsaysay award winner and veteran journalist P Sainath.

Apart from this,  Sardesai created quite a stir on social media after claiming that Rahul Gandhi was ‘probably’ the first national politician to warn about the outbreak of Covid2019.  He implied that India would have been in a better position if the former Congress president was taken seriously.

8) Rohit Sardana

Aaj Tak’s ‘Dangal with Rohit Sardana’ just like any other prime time show focused on the Jamaat, with the journalist zooming in on visuals obtained from inside the congregation hall of Nizamuddin Markaz where no one was practicing social distancing.

Sardana, who was heavily targeted for giving communal angle to the Jammat incident, says, “Corona ko corona ke jaise dekhiya, bimaari ko dharam ke chasme se nahi dekhiye”. (One should look at corona like corona, don’t look at the disease through the lens of religion.)

He also raised a question targeting Shiv Sena supremo Uddhav Thackey.  “Santon ki sunegi sarkar?” asked  Sardana on Aaj Tak’s ‘Dangal’, referring to the Palghar lynching case. He said that Shiv Sena was once considered a “kattar (strict) Hindu party” but now the sadhu-saint community in India is upset with the party after the incident in which two sadhus from the Juna Akhada were violently beaten to death.

9) Anjana Om Kashyap and Shweta Singh

Aaj Tak’s leading female faces Anjana Om Kashyap and Shweta Singh were seen playing a game of antakshari on air “Shuru karo antakshari, le kar Aaj Tak ka naam”. This was to lighten the stress of the viewers amid this testing time. They even invited viewers to participate in the game by sending videos of them singing which are later broadcast on TV.

The trend of playing antakshari was started by BJP minister Smriti Irani on twitter on the very first day of Janta curfew.

10) Sumit Awasthi

Sumit Awasthi has joined ABP News as the consulting editor in 2018. Since then he has been accused of supporting BJP. When the lockdown was imposed he first congratulated the PM for “leading from the front” by making the cabinet ministers sit far apart from each other during their meeting. However, on the other hand, Awasthi expressed disappointment with Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath and his Ram Navami puja in a crowded temple without wearing masks, gloves, or any sign of social distancing.  He even used a tweet by someone that said this kind of puja would not be accepted by God, as it puts lives in danger.

Awasthi who is very active on Twitter recently shared a post with the picture of Priyanka Gandhi, Akhilesh Singh Yadav and Yogi Adityanath. In the post he is appealing to the ruling party and the opposition party in UP to stop the politics over the issue of migrant labourers and ridiculed them for not coming up with a concrete policy to help the workers.

The journalist was brutally trolled on twitter for supporting BJP and criticising the Congress and SP. But Awasthi seems to be unaffected by all this fiasco created on social media sites.

11) Navika Kumar

Times Network group editor politics Navika Kumar despite every criticism has supported the NDA-led BJP government. When Congress MP Shashi Tharoor had questioned the PM-Cares scheme asking why it had to be launched when other similar schemes already existed.

Calling it a ‘political slugfest’ she said, “As India unites to fight a virus that threatens the world, Modi haters and opposition have joined hands to question his relief fund.”

Kumar called out the opposition party for their response, “While no one is taking rights away from the opposition but to question the existence of a fund created to help India come out and fight coronavirus seems to be rather petty.”

She raised a question: is fighting Modi bigger than fighting coronavirus?

12) Rahul Shivshankar

Times Now editor-in-chief Rahul Shivshankar on his primetime show India Upfront targeted Congress for questioning financial aid provided by the Modi government. During the show, Shivshankar mentioned that over three lakh crore 'livelihood lifeline' has been given to migrants, vendors and farmers in Booster 2.0. “Narendra Modi Sarkar provides dignity not ‘Dole’,” says Shivshankar.

In one of his episodes, Shivshankar highlighted that India among other countries is doing better to flatten the curve which is questionable in the eyes of the opposition. He had said that India witnessed 40 per cent ‘robust’ recovery rate and a fatality rate which is one of the lowest.

Pointing towards the opposition, he asked: “Are critics still not convinced. Can they deny India’s graph?”

He exclaimed that the whole world has recognized the fact that India managed the pandemic better than many other countries. If the lockdown was not there, hell would’ve broken loose in India. The decision to impose lockdown has helped to prevent nearly 1.4 to 2.9 million Covid2019 infections in India.

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