Arnab Goswami did not kill TV news. He changed it.

It is no surprise that Arnab Goswami’s journalism, disgusts the rest of his industry, of which Barkha Dutt is a mere symbol. That her outburst is a mere continuation of a ferocious campaign against him, since the time, the Outlook magazine branded him as ‘The man who killed TV News’, needs to be remembered. Reasons for this maligning attempt are numerous. But at the heart of it, lies their deep aversion to a fast-changing media environment. The status-quo is being challenged, the old ways of doing journalism are getting defeated, and this is giving them sleepless nights. While the quality of his content is debatable, the form of his journalism needs to be celebrated.

Direct questions, unambiguous answers.

There was a time, when guests on TV debates, could get away with merry-go-round arguments. Not anymore. Efforts of spinning an argument on air, are met with resistance. The resistance comes from the anchor himself. He keeps asking the same question, again and again, until such a time when the tone, tenor, and argument of the guest’s response is as direct as his own. Direct, in form; certainly not similar in content, for the guests disagree with him just as much as they agree, if not more. And thus,  The Newshour viewer got, what the Indian voter could not: answers. In the answer, which more often than not, becomes a confession- lies the triumph of Indian democracy.

To think that he changed the media landscape without opposition, will be a mistake. There is a long list of public figures, who refused to come to his show, after he aired an unfavourable story, or made them uncomfortable with his on-air questions. But he did not stop. He stuck to his form of journalism.

Arnab Goswami ‘mainstreamed’, the social media.

There was a time when the collective wisdom of a handful editors, all comfortably seated in their Noida offices, could set the news agenda. Not anymore. Social media is the loop that the Fourth Estate needed. It is the feeder, the receiver, and the reviewer- all in real-time. The Newshour gave it the space it deserved. Others followed.

Viewer is the judge.

The viewer benefited from his journalism. After watching The Newshour, he is either enthused, or angered; both ways, he gets the clarity that he needs, to judge those walking in the corridors of power. And so, Arnab Goswami is not the Justice that he is made out to be. It is the viewer itself who is the judge, in the final analysis. And nothing can be more empowering to the real aam aadmi, than the fact that the messenger that media is supposed to be, has finally become a facilitator, in the true sense of the term.

Ratings

There is a barometer to judge the strength of your competition, in all spheres of society. Manufacturing, is about production. Retail, about sales. Businesses, about profits. Magazines, about readership. Political parties, about winning elections. Government finance, about revenue. And yes- TV news, to the bewildering surprise of some- about ratings.

The fight for viewership, and ratings is as old as news itself. The only difference is that the old elites, now stand crushed, due to stiff competition. If marketing a well-built product, and publicising a well-crafted policy is allowed, why this aversion for presenting a different version of TV news? Their problem is not with him running after ratings- for that is something the whole industry is expected to do. Problem is with the fact that the ratings have shifted, to their disadvantage, and at the expense of the clout they once enjoyed in the corridors of power.

The privilege of deciding what constitutes the right kind of journalism.

If those fighting elections, are allowed the liberty to present compelling arguments, on what the business of a particular government should be, and how it is supposed to conduct the same; why is it that the likes of Arnab Goswami are denied the right to present their case before the people of the Indian Republic? Is formulating the doctrine of good journalism the sole privilege of the likes of Ms. Dutt, who happen to disagree with him?

Those who hate him need to come to terms with the fact that he has made mainstream media- more inclusive, and citizen-centric. Given that it is a little too late for the old elites, to change their profession, they have no option but to embrace this new form of media. One can only hope that they do; for the world is replete with examples of products that have been destroyed, and careers that have been ruined simply because they refused to answer the call of change.

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