Annurag Batra, Chairman and Editor-in-Chief, exchange4media Group shares his thoughts on Arnab Goswami winning the IMPACT Person of the Year 2015 and creating a super-impact amongst super-achievers
In January this year, exchange4media had organized its annual exchange4media News Broadcasting Awards, ENBA 2015, where Arnab Goswami addressed the audience and also participated in a panel discussion. There was a live tweet screen from the audience, and the best tweet I noticed was "Breaking News... Arnab Goswami quiet for 20 minutes". The tweet was tongue-in-cheek and in some way acknowledged the stature, cult and on-screen persona that Arnab Goswami has built in the last eight years. He has been lambasted on the cover of a magazine about his contribution to the direction of the news broadcast business. He is the subject of viral spoofs by all major new age comedy players, as well as WhatsApp jokes and social media cartoons. What this denotes is that he has truly caught the imagination of the viewer, and by that corollary, that of the nation.
Arnab Goswami has redefined the news broadcast business in a way that everybody else tries to. They either imitate him or have communication focussed on running him down. In some ways, Arnab Goswami has come to define and decide what the upper class English-speaking audience views and talks about, whether he or she likes his style of news delivery or not.
At many conferences and seminars, I ask the audience whether they watch news or not, whether they believe news anchors or not, and who they watch and inevitably, Arnab Goswami and Times Now crop up.
I remember two specific instances at the last two ENBAs in 2014 and 2015 – one, my friends from the non-media domain requested me for passes just to come and listen to Arnab Goswami live and take a selfie with him. Second, a couple of months back when the Chief Guest at the Indian Digital Media Awards, Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis, was held up with a visiting international trade delegation, I jokingly remarked that we are lucky to have the second most important person in Mumbai, Arnab Goswami, to deliver the keynote address, and people bought it.
Arnab Goswami has an unmatched on-screen persona and style, and a passion for news. The Newshour and the super prime time that he hosts have become in some way appointment viewing, trending every night. Arnab in real life is a shy yet warm and very cultured individual, living very ethically in a media domain where it is so easy to be carried away by one’s access and influence. He believes in the power of news to transform and knows that news viewers’ expectations from news have changed over the last few years, where the viewers want an activist who takes up causes and continues to create pressure by building public opinion. A nationalist to the core, and someone who believes that leadership is defined by action, and not just talk, Arnab has endeared himself to viewers and has built a strong brand of Times Now. His show Newshour is now a Rs 100 crore-grosser for Times Now in a year. That's a milestone by itself.
Last year, Riz Khan, the celebrated TV anchor and someone who was part of shaking up al-Jazeera, shared at ENBA that he grew up in the days when news anchors relayed the news with no POV, but now in an increasingly complex world, the anchor has to decode the cacophony for the viewer and also take up his cause with the powers that be. Arnab Goswami represents and leads that change in the news arena. He knows the pulse of his viewer, and is not afraid to take a stance. He also understands that in a cluttered world, breaking through with innovation and promotion of content is equally important as creating moving content.
Arnab believes that it is time to have a global news channel from India representing India’s position. About this, not only the nation, but the world wants to know.
Arnab Goswami wins through a twin process of editorial nomination and polling across peers in the industry, and it's a huge victory for news professionals as it recognizes the fact that news still makes an impact, and a big one, even in today's controlled environment.
Saluting this year’s highly respected nominees for IMPACT Person of the Year - Rana Kapoor, a well known brand by himself and an institution-builder, who has set up a $ 6 billion bank in 12 years; Vijay Shekhar Sharma, who has made Paytm a game-changer and is creating a new ecosystem in the service space impacting many industries including ours; Amitabh Kant, whose Make-in-India campaign for our Prime Minister and the country has enhanced our nation as a brand; Kunal Bahl, who has built a unicorn in such a short while; Nikesh Arora who has believed in the Indian story and has been a game-changer for the start-up domain with big bets, CVL Srinivas who has ensured that GroupM’s domination and presence is enhanced and Ashish Bhasin, who has propelled the Dentsu Aegis Network to the big league in such a short time through an entrepreneurial approach. All their achievements mirror the kind of talent and leaders we have in our country.
Arnab Goswami is IMPACT Person of the Year 2015 for creating a super-impact amongst these super-achievers.