“A decade back I had lost faith in the profession. I was about to quit journalism. For me, journalism then had lost its charm and was no longer considered as something that could make an impact. But, then, I took the challenge and decided to break the clutter in the news space,” expressed Goswami.
He prides himself of his integrity and credibility.
“For me, two things matter, more than ratings and viewership and that is integrity and credibility. The day you question this, I will leave the profession,” shared the news anchor who is often accused of being aggresive.
Success mantra of Times Now
Goswami believes that to getting into the minds of the viewers, was the only way of getting into their hearts.
“What we have done in India today is that whether you like us or you don’t like us, we are in your minds, and sometimes in your hearts. So we broke the clutter that way. There was no excel sheet which helped us do that, it was pure passion,” Goswami pointed out.
He also revealed that when he was presented with the challenge of starting a new news channel, he was pretty hazed. Goswami shared that he was not familiar with the television and production business back then.
“I was confused and if I may say so, I went on to launching the greatest disaster of the history of television industry. It was considered to be a looser from the start. And people said ‘he came to launch Times Now, but it has become Times When’. They used to ridicule my people. The reporters were ridiculed day after day,” said Goswami recollecting the early days of Times Now.
According to Arnab, Times Now did five things to break the clutter –
No copy and no crib formula
The channel did not follow the agenda, but started making the agenda. “All my competitors keep doing two things, which I ask them not to do. I tell them, don’t copy me and don’t crib about me. Because when they copy me, they lose their originality and when they crib about me, they lose positivity towards their own profession and life. I don’t copy and I don’t crib,” expressed Arnab boldly.
Goswami further added that Times Now believes in serious journalism. “It was serious journalism, which told the viewers that television is serious journalism and we don’t follow newspapers. We took on people. We took on Dr Manmohan Singh. We took risks and stands. We didn’t become the story, we made people the story.”
Questioning neutrality in journalism
Arnab said that the channel questioned the neutrality that other news channels preached.
“Can you afford to be neutral when Manu Sharma who is convicted for murder is given parole only to be found attending parties? What is this neutrality? This is simply lack of conviction in the job that you do. Many in the profession have forgotten why they became a journalist. The job of the media is not to be a part of the circuit; its job is to confront the politicians and establishments. Neutrality has corrupted journalism.”
“Media has forgotten that there are so many questions to be asked against the establishments in this country,” said Arnab.
Goswami confessed that he has never been on the Prime Minister’s flight, which is considered as one of the perks of journalism. “I would feel uncomfortably ill to be in that flight.” Confrontation, for Arnab helps in exposing the truth.
There is too much of subservience that has crept in journalism. “Does journalism talk to people in power as equals or is there too much of subservience being built in the profession? These are questions I would like to ask to those who declare themselves falsely to be my competitors. What they should ask themselves is not why Times Now is winning, but why there form of journalism is losing. The answer is simple, there form of journalism doesn’t relate to the sentiments of the people.”
Goswami expressed that journalists go around congratulating the newly appointed ministers, which should not be the case. “I do not believe in badhai ho journalism,” Goswami said.
Priority is audience
Goswami shared that there were a few happy moments of his life, when the need to keep their decisions well informed gave him the will and determination to be in this industry for a little while longer.
While the first happy instance was the arrest of Suresh Kalmadi for the CWG scam, the second was when former Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh had to pull out eight sheets of paper to answer to his question.
“But the happiest day of my life, is the day I am criticised for the most and that day is when the five year old boy named Prince was pulled out of a ditch in Kurukshetra. For me that was the day journalism woke up again in my heart. That was the day when I realised that I need to be a journalist for a little while longer,” he concluded.
Veteran journalist Arnab Goswami shared his journey in the field of journalism and revealed many secrets while addressing a keynote at the CII Big Summit 2014 on Breaking the Clutter. The moderator of the session was Harit Nagpal, MD and CEO, Tata Sky.
This article was earlier published on Indian Media Book