“Television news is going to explode if you get it right; if you do it right, it is going to be the biggest sector of television in India and television news will dominate 50 per cent of the revenues,” said Arnab Goswami, Editor-in-Chief and news anchor, Times Now. At the same time, he noted that people are still not getting the news in real focus as they want. “We are guided by TRPs, which is not correct for television news as they hold a certain respect and responsibility towards the nation,” he added.
He further said, “News news has a huge impact, in fact, the impact is so big that people create political parties around the impact. Goswami noted, “A dedicated news viewer in India watches news for 25-30 minutes a week and only 5 per cent of the people are watching news this way in India. The news business fraternity is over-dependent on this 5 per cent, the remaining 95 per cent is not watching enough because they are not getting engaged by the news shown to them.” According to Goswami, the reason for this low level of viewership is that while the number of news channels has increased drastically, the brutal reality is that even in 2014 most channels have the same formats and designs of news in 1995.
He added that a new form of journalism has to come up, which is only possible if journalists have the power to shape to shape public opinion. “There needs to be a change in the way you do and buy news,” he said, adding the key to success is how the news is presented.
On a more personal note, Goswami shared how the tragic 26/11 terror attacks and the list of scams that have taken place in the recent past have changed his attitude towards news. “I have become more sensitive to the issues and my aim is to change the country. I look at journalism where I want to reach the viewer’s heart, I don’t want the viewers to love me, but think about what I said. In this process, if my viewership increases so be it, if not, then so be it. I am clear that I have to bring forth the changes in this country, it’s my responsibility,” he said.
Replying to the question asked by Annurag Batra, Chairman and Editor-in-Chief, exchange4media Group about his take on the people who dislike the format of his show and think that he sensationalises news, Goswami remarked, “This country can be seen in two ways – either through tinted glasses or in its reality. I am not acting on TV. I strongly feel and believe in the topics that I pick up and the way I project them. I am unable to distance myself from the story, I get moved and affected by it.”
On his stance on India-Pakistan relations, he said, “There is industry of peace with Pakistan and I choose not to be part of that industry as I think it is pretentious. I have coined a term for it – ‘Candy floss diplomacy’ – as it is sweet, delicate and wonderful, but it’s not good for your health.”
Narrating an incident from a few years back, Goswami said, “After ‘Samjhauta’, I was interviewing the then foreign minister of Pakistan Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri. I had put forward what was a simple question, when suddenly a tall man entered the room and told the minister that he cannot continue with the interview. When the minister requested that bouncer-like person to let him continue with the interview, the man said that it was not an interview, but an inquisition.” Goswami further said that ever since that interview eight years ago, neither he nor any person employed with Times Now have been given a visa for Pakistan. At the same time, Goswami also shared that in an interview with former Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf, he was told that he is watched in Pakistan, which speaks volumes about the good work done.
Goswami further stated that Times Now has been the No. 1 news channel for six years now and invited other news channels to compete with Times Now by making their shows better and changing the format. He said, “The improvement in their channels will lead to the improvement of the news industry in India.”
Arnab Goswami was sharing his views during his keynote address at News Next 2014, organized by exchange4media in New Delhi on January 18. NewsX was the presenting sponsor of the event.