Arnab Goswami, Editorial Director & Editor-in-Chief, Times Now takes on his critics and answers why it is important to have a point of view , play up important stories and being an activist for relevant issues.
Arnab Goswami, Editorial Director & Editor-in-Chief, Times Now started the second day of Goafest by saying, “I am here today not to defend myself for the journalism we do, I actually want to plead guilty today. Lot of people say about what we do and I won’t defend myself against it. I will rather plead guilty to everything that people say against us but I will tell you why we do it.” He went to say, “I am here to talk about why we do and what we do, why I do, what I do, why I believe in the journalism we do and why I think that the journalism we do, as opposed to what other do and I don’t mince my words. I don’t say that we are a variant of their journalism, we are new journalists. There is journalism which is relevant and irrelevant and which people relate to and watch.” Goswami then went on to list what are considered to the foundation of journalism and why he believes it does not hold any stead today.
Never express your opinion
While the old school of thought was never to express your opinion as that was bad journalism. He stated, “The journalism I follow is a journalism of opinion, taking a stand and not of political correctness and does not advocate fence-sitting. It is certainly not a journalism that believes in the fake philosophy that stating opinion violates journalistic norms of neutrality.” Goswami said that when a journalist is confronted with a right and wrong, “Will you be a fence-sitter?” He added that being a good journalist meant being neutral and a position on what is right and wrong can’t be taken. Goswami stated that neutrality when there is something wrong is a weakness as it perpetuates a status quo and has no impact. If a journalist takes a neutral stand particularly on issues of corruption, violence etc, then journalism becomes an exercise in futility and has no impact and does not reach out to the people.
Playing Stories Up
Playing up stories, sensationalism are some of terms used for stories on Times Now. Goswami counters this and says if it weren’t for sensationalism, Prince – a small boy who fell in a borewell in 2006, would not have been rescued. Goswami says, “The story of Prince was a story of apathy and government’s recklessness. The whole country watched it because we sensationalised and if this not journalism, then I challenge the journalism that say giving voice to the helpless, then I challenge those journalists who question this journalism.” The effect of this has been that journalism was not the same again and today officials are scared of the media and will actually do their job.
Trying to become an activist
Countering the second charge of being an activist and going after one story, Goswami asks why the line between journalism and activism is closed. He believes that activism on appropriate issues, and not just political issues, and relentless media coverage can help the victim get justice. “it is only in this country when you are shamed and embarrassed and when you are told watch out as we are going to go after you, only in those circumstances do powerful people who carry out injustice respond and that is the fulcrum of the role of the media today.’
Becoming too involved
The charge of becoming too involved in a story, the greater the propensity to make mistakes or to takes sides. Goswami says that the channel was able to break stories on multiple scams, such as Commonwealth Games Scam, Devas iSRO scam, Aircel Maxis,2G scam, Adarsh Kargil for Profit scam, because the channel decided to get involved and dig deeper into the story. The quick unravelling of scams between 2011-12 was a “magical moment” in Indian journalism and Goswami says that journalism will never be the same again and has given birth to the current form of journalism.
Don’t listen to the other side
Referring to his now-famous interview with Rahul Gandhi, Goswami said that he did let the other side speak. He adds that this interview was important for the Indian media as it sent out the message that Gandhi wasn’t ready for the top job and set the tone for the general elections.
Don’t cover news like other mainstream media
Recounting an incident that led Goswami to realise of the journalism that he was doing wrong and re-examine media’s role in the society. When actor Sanjay Dutt was being transferred from a Mumbai prison, a contingent of media followed Dutt to Pune, and all channels covered this non-stop. That afternoon, Goswami received a call from Bengaluru, from a gentleman whose friend, an army officer had been killed fighting militants on the border. The gentleman pointed out that except Doordarshan no other channel covered the funeral of Col. Vasant Venugopal, who died at 42, with army honours. This incident changed Goswami’s approach to journalism and he says, “I had nothing to tell. Here, I was recovering Sanjay Dutt and the stark reality of what you are doing comes and hits you.”