“ The television media has made politicians of this country accountable for their doings. We play a conscious role towards being a force multiplier for social movements. Such was the case during the India Against Corruption movement, in which Anna Hazare, Kiran Bedi, Arvind Kejriwal and Prashant Bhushan came together. Today, when now media questions Kejriwal as a politician, people ask me, ‘Have you forgotten that you are the same people, who put Kejriwal on a pedestal?’ But I never supported Arvind Kejriwal. I supported the fight against corruption. Our support was for the Lokpal movement and not for a group that wanted to become a political party.” Said Mr Arnab Goswami.
“It’s always a tough decision to take the path less travelled. Rival channels have always accused me of being over the top and presenting a dumbed-down version of the news. However I am a firm believer in my form of journalism. We have created a form of journalism in our country, which does not believe in the ‘underhand delivery’. I look upon us as new-age journalists. It is my responsibility to throw those in power a googly or bouncer once in a while.” He said.
“ I never wanted to become a journalist or do I enjoy it but then there are moments when I realise how journalism can change the lives of ordinary people,” he said.
“There are people who allege that Times Now only focuses on sensational journalism. To which Arnab gave a brief account of his stint with NDTV as a young journalist. “Appan Menon was my news editor and he wanted me to cover a story. The story was about a child who had fallen into an open manhole. I told him I didn’t want to do it since it is a small story. I wanted to cover foreign affairs and politics. Appan told me, ‘One day, Arnab, you will realise what a big mistake you made. The biggest story is that our country is the only country in the world, where a child comes out of school and falls into a manhole that should have been covered by the government’. Appan died six months later but that guilt stayed with me.”
Ten years later, the Times Group launched Times Now. Arnab said, “I am a great believer of the Almighty, who opens your eyes and makes you realise your mistakes. In 2006, a child in Kurukshetra fell into an open borewell. My news editor felt it was a Hindi news channel story. I asked myself, what is an English news channel story? Is it the Democratic and Republican vote share in Arkansas? Or a story about the Ministry of External Affairs? My heart went back to the mistake that I had made ten years ago. I went to the office and told my people to forget everything else and do this story.”
Arnab shared another anecdote which he termed “as another mistake” in his career. This incident happened when actor Sanjay Dutt was being transported from Mumbai’s Arthur Road Jail to Pune’s Yerwada prison. “I sent my reporters and camerapersons to cover Sanjay Dutt’s story. While I was having my lunch, I got a phone call from someone in Bengaluru, who had been following my career and Times Now since a long time. He vowed never to watch my channel again. I was surprised and asked him why. He said that his best friend, Colonel Vasanth Venugopal had died in a combat with terrorists on the border. But not a single news channel had bothered to cover the martyrdom of this man. I was shocked and apologised to him. Suddenly, the whole Sanjay Dutt drama looked puerile to me. I invited the man to come on my programme and he agreed.”
But Arnab was in for a surprise. Before he went live, he asked his producer if the guest was ready. His producer replied, “Yes, she is ready”. Arnab told him it was a man, who had called but his producer interrupted and said, “Col. Venugopal’s wife, Subhashini, has decided to come on your programme.” Arnab recalled, “Here was a lady, who had cremated her husband four hours ago. What do I ask her? I started off by asking some opening questions. She spoke for ten minutes from her heart – about her husband, about how proud she was of him and about her children. I immediately got a call from Col. J. J. Singh, who was the Chief of Army Staff at that time. He asked me for the brave lady’s number. The incident changed my perspective of journalism forever.”
Towards the end of his speech, Arnab posed a thought-provoking question to the FLO members He asked, “What kind of media do you want in this country? Do you want this media, irrespective of how noisy, argumentative and difficult it is? Or would you like to have the tame, quiet and sophisticated media that bowls underhand deliveries?”
FLO President, Ms Vasvi Bharat Ram speaking on the occasion said said, “FLO is the most apt platform to connect, learn and grow.
We recognise the success stories of true achievers and provide a platform for the members to be inspired by them. This programme has provided us an excellent opportunity to be motivated by the inspiring success story of Arnab Goswami and learn about his journey to success.”
She further said, “Considering the fact that media persons have to walk a tightrope between the establishment and their duty to the citizenry, the bottom line imperative ought to be fairness, truthfulness, and objectivity in their reporting. We heard from the stalwart himself, the journey of being the valiant news-person that he is, the challenges and the achievements in the pathway to success , the most talked about Times Now breakaway, and the return with the bang ‘Republic’- all of these and much more.”