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Noorings: Being Arnab Goswami

26-April-2010
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Noorings: Being Arnab Goswami

I have returned to Twitter very recently, thanks to surfing Internet on my mobile and what media analysts say about mobile social networking, that you are more active when you are on mobile than on a personal computer of any kind, is true in my case. So, I am more active than usual on Twitter and Facebook, and once again privy to significant amount of discussions on these platforms. One cannot help but notice that one out of 10 tweets is on some nationally known figure (right now five on 10 tweets are on Shashi Tharoor, IPL & Lalit Modi, but that aside). And in that, Times Now’s Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami often is a subject of conversation – both monologue and dialogue.

It is very clear that people have strong views on how Arnab Goswami has developed his news presentation style. Some call it aggressive, and some just get irritated – the latter are very vocal on it too. Even our own columnists at exchange4media and impact have written extensively about Arnab Goswami and Times Now and they just can’t stop writing and talking about him. But neither can ignore the fact that Arnab Goswami is responsible for taking Times Now so much ahead of all players and going past traditional genre leaders like NDTV 24x7 by miles and relegate CNN-IBN to a third position. Despite the backing of the Bennett, Coleman and Company Ltd, Times Now barely got itself a good start in 2006, but cut to two years later, and courtesy Times Now, NDTV is no where closer to being a leader. Times Now’s aggressive stance has paid off and continues to do so. For a fair share of the last two years, Times Now has stayed on top of the charts, and a large part of that credit goes to Arnab Goswami.

The English news media kingpins of this age include names like Rajdeep Sardesai and Barkha Dutt. Sardesai is an extremely respected name in journalism, and Dutt commands her own too. One may like to add Dr Prannoy Roy to this elite list, but there are those who know the business, and separate the master from the students. And then there are those who see equal competition, and hence, comparison. That said, this is no comparison between these journalistic leaders and inspirations for the younger lot of tomorrow’s leaders. This is about Arnab Goswami, who reminds one of success stories like Fox News. Many may not like Goswami’s style, but the viewer somewhere does, which is why the channel is getting its ratings. And in our business, isn’t that what really matters?

If you are thinking by now I am an Arnab Goswami or Times Now fan, let me please put on record that I am not. My line of work doesn’t allow that, and this is not about my personal views. I still ended up writing on the subject following a short visit to a media school, and some conversations post that. I was to do nothing, just speak to the students, tell them the dangers that surround them if they choose to be a journalist and that journalism doesn’t only mean war, crime and politics (it was amazing how some students didn’t think the three were different). The most watched channel for this classroom group of 18-21 was Times Now; the most followed anchor was Arnab Goswami.

Since then, in the last couple of months, any student I have met or someone who has appeared for a job interview or just freshers from other companies, I ask about the news channel and editor they look up to, and even though at times not positive, Arnab Goswami is always a part of the mix. I ask them why, and there are many different reasons. Let me list three - first, the sheer energy on-screen - Goswami recently turned 37 years, which makes him younger than any other editor holding a similar title on news television, and that energy is on-screen. Some people may call it shrillness, the reporters of tomorrow and viewers see it as passion. Second, the subjects and choice - some news stories notwithstanding, many youngsters think that Arnab Goswami’s choice of news is often interesting from a national viewpoint. Third, Goswami thinks through and presents the best panels in various discussion topics. 26/11 to Budget Day, the discussions on Times Now keep the viewer hooked. In last year’s elections news, Times Now had more to offer than NDTV, and that is saying something given that elections traditionally were NDTV’s strength.

Goswami is the only editor managing the national news scene based in Mumbai, and it makes one believe that Delhi alone is not the centre for serious journalism. For all his shortcomings, that are widely written and talked about, there is a section that wants to be the Arnab Goswami of tomorrow. ‘Crazy like a Fox’ is how Goswami can be described too...

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