Love him or hate him, you just can’t ignore him… This statement cannot be more apt for someone other than Arnab Goswami.
He is one of those news anchors who not only changed the face of Indian journalism (sensationalism to some) but slowly and surely claimed the coveted 9 pm slot as his own. In fact, ask anyone who follows the news on Indian television, they either religiously tune into the Newshour at 9 pm or make a conscious effort to stay away from it. You just won’t find anyone who does not have an opinion on the show. This is what makes Arnab Goswami stand out from your rag tag bunch of self-righteous intellectuals like Barkha Dutt, Rajdeep Sardesai, Ravish Kumar etc.
His brand of loud, obnoxious, irreverent journalism might not have gone down well with the purists who preferred the more traditional subtle ass kissing that they were used to. But, the public resonated with the outrage and passion Arnab displayed on screen an equated it with the angst they were already feeling. His choice of topics also tapped into this very emotion.
As a self-confessed Arnab fan, I have to admit that I will miss him on my TV screen. I might not agree with his stand on all issues but I do have to admit, his disdain for politicians doling out the usual crap really connected with me. I personally believe that his interview with Rahul Gandhi before the last elections permanently destroyed any aspirations Rahul Gandhi entertained about becoming the Prime Minister one day.
Now that he has officially resigned from Times Now after over 10 years at its helm, everyone including his opponents and detractors are waiting with baited breath to what his next steps are.
I for one would like to work for him…
Yes… I said it. I WOULD LIKE TO WORK FOR ARNAB GOSWAMI!!
I am not aware of what kind of a boss he is or how I would fit into a media house based on my prior experience as a marketing professional dealing with brands, but I am prepared to take that risk.
And why would I do that?
Firstly, he knew the pulse of his audience exactly and would cater shamelessly to them. Now this is one thing that other “brands” of news never felt necessary. They were quite happy sitting high up on their pedestals and dishing out their ultra-liberal Left views in the name of unbiased journalism. This directly resulted in increased TRP’s and a sense of highly polarized opinion about Arnab and his show.
With the freedom given to him by the Times Now board, he flirted with the line of how much he could say and question on national television. He did not mince words when there were issues that required a strong stance regardless of whether it was pro or anti-government of the day. His attacks on some political parties and their policies were sometimes so scathing that some political outfits like Aam Aadmi Party and the Congress decided to boycott his show.
Secondly, he was the first to harness the true power of the masses via social media. He understood that the news was no longer a domain of the power circles in New Delhi and the elite. The power of Twitter was such that there were more news being broken on Twitter than on any of the news channels at one point of time. Encouraging the public to participate in the debates via tweets and prominently display tweets on the screen was a masterstroke if you ask me. Constantly reminding the viewers that the hashtags were “trending” on Twitter led to the increased participation as well.
Media had already moved from a one way mechanism to a 2 way street… News took the same route as well.
Thirdly, he had a no nonsense approach to the way he conducted his debates and interviews. Karan Thappar was among the first to start asking the tough questions, but just like me, the general public could not warm up to the stony faced guy who hardly managed to emote on any level. If Karan Thappar decided to enter movies, he could easily replace Uday Chopra in all his roles.
Arnab however could emote. His face showed respect, disgust, exasperation, frustration, surprise and a myriad of emotions fleeted across his face while conducting interviews. Somehow these were the exact emotions on the face of the person watching the interview. He put the human element back into news reporting, a domain that equated the neutral expression with classic journalism. He did not just “read” the news either, he expressed them.
This human element was a genius masterstroke!! It might not have been an innovation in its true sense but he did put back what had slowly faded into oblivion.
Fourthly, he did not make a conscious effort to be “likable”. He knew that there will be plenty of people both within the existing framework (media houses, government, general public etc.) who will have polarizing views to his. That did not deter him from taking up burning topics or asking the tough questions or picking sides. He broke away from the existing mechanism of the media – pandering to everyone to ensure approachability.
He openly shut down microphones of his panelists, was rude on their faces, completely disregarded conventional courtesy and even lately kicked out a panelist during the show. All with complete knowledge that his actions are not going to go down well. Arnab Goswami ended up being the 2nd most polarizing figure of recent times. The obvious first being our Prime Minister.
Next, he built a fabulous team around him. His arguments might not have been always completely based on facts, but the way in which his research, social media, PR and production team managed to deliver high octane topics and controversial breaking news has to be applauded.
He knew that he was the face of the show but also knew that the face can only be as good as the quality of content. The way his production team managed to pull up interesting tit bits based on where the debate was heading truly exemplified the stature of the show. Any newsperson can easily get carried away in the throngs of a heated debate, but the fact that the team managed to complement his style was a joy to watch on screen.
Lastly, he openly defied convention. It was unheard of for one news channel to openly call out another or for a journalist to challenge his peers. But he did this… Over and over again, to a point where it became the base instinct for all news channels to follow suit or to work overtime to pull down Arnab from his “high horse”.
This compelled the others to roll up their sleeves and actually take a stand on issues, more often than not, they were on his opposite side and just could not hold on to the public’s interest.
Now that he has decided to move on to bigger things, I just can’t wait to see what changes he brings about in the media space. I believe he is smart enough to know that he cannot serve the same brand of news that is associated with Times Now and the Newshour. He will have to reinvent himself as that is the only way he can remain relevant while being associated with a new brand. People will look forward to what his whole channel will bring to this space rather than a primetime slot.
I wish I had the transcript of his farewell speech to his team. There is a video going around but the audio is barely recognizable. However, two things stood out for me. One was the fact that he re-established his faith in independent media. The second was the powerful statement – “The Game has just begun”.
So Mr. Arnab Goswami, if you are reading this… I would like to say two things.
First… Thank you for all that you have done to change the media. It was a pleasure spending a few hours of my week with you.
And secondly… I would love to work with you at new venture. So when you start putting together your team… Please do give me a “SHOUT” out… (Sorry. couldn’t resist it)