Dear Mr Goswami, I Admire You As A Businessman But Not As A Journalist

Posted by Dilip Vedula in Media, Society
May 25, 2017

Arnab Goswami – the man who was perhaps the sole reason why the national news channel, Times Now, enjoyed top viewership for years. However, one fine day, he chose to move on.

Today, he is the driving force behind his own channel – Republic TV. His contributions to media have been unique and manifold. But, his aims to build a global news channel out of Republic TV and promote open and transparent journalism are commendable, yet ironic.

They are commendable for the perceived idealism – but ironic for the lack of it, when it comes to action. While Arnab Goswami is a great TRP-magnet, and hence, a great businessman, the same cannot be said about his style of journalism.

Sorry Mr Goswami, you do business and not journalism – and there is indeed a big difference between the two!

Anybody who views Mr Goswami’s show knows that his style of journalism involves picking a target and (on the pretext of an interview) shouting and shrieking at the person till he/she gives up – but our illustrious host does not. This style of journalism has gained popularity very quickly and has garnered a large viewership among Indian audiences.

Businessman extraordinaire or sensational journalist?

While watching Goswami’s show once – and having witnessed the repeated, unwarranted badgering of a ‘guest’ in a manner a mother would probably chide her son – I wondered how this rude drama can be popular. My thoughts took me all the way back to a marketing class on ‘consumer behaviour’, during my MBA course. Consumer behaviour, as the professor read out, is defined as “understanding the needs of a group/organisation and providing them with a service/product that satisfies their needs and wants.

I believe that apart from being a journalist, Mr Goswami has also mastered this lesson in business. After all, he makes sure that his audience is glued to the TV.

But, what exactly is he giving to the audience that is satisfying their needs and wants? The answer to this lies in the fact that negativity sells and drama entertains. Besides, voyeurism is a basic human instinct. It is the very instinct that makes us want to eavesdrop on the domestic disturbances of neighbours, or gather in groups and derive vicarious pleasure from watching a street-fight or a subway-altercation.

This same human instinct fetches Arnab Goswami his viewers. He uses this basic human characteristic to increase the viewership of the channel. He tries to usurp the supposed ‘discussions’ and instead sells his opinion as the ultimate opinion of the country. But, does this earn respect for his journalism, or improve the knowledge-quotient of the average viewer? Well, that is debatable.

Had Arnab been in any other business, I am sure he would have built a billion-dollar empire in no time. But unfortunately, he is a journalist. A journalist’s job is to be a watchdog and question the government or establishment, unearth and publish facts fearlessly. I believe a TV news channel cannot be a profit-making entity with the sole purpose of attaining and increasing viewership.

How can it be acceptable for a journalist to term someone as ‘mentally unstable’ or a ‘lapdog‘ on a national news channel – while the same behaviour elsewhere is unacceptable and punishable?

Arnab is a businessman disguised as a journalist, who, when questioned about the company’s investors, yells vaguely, “Funding is in the public domain”, without a proper answer. On the other hand, the company’s investors are known to be Mohandas Pai and Rajeev Chandrashekar – and isn’t Chandrasekhar supposedly affiliated with the ruling party of the country? While it is okay for a news channel to accept investments from anyone in the country, I find it hypocritical of someone not admitting it fearlessly, when he claims to be a ‘fearless’ journalist.

Please do not mistake my words as a lampoon of Mr Goswami’s personal traits. As a matter of fact, people who work for him have said that he is a professional and kind employer, who treats his employees and colleagues with the utmost respect. But, his style of journalism is disconcerting, especially when his vision is to make his channel a global news channel.

How does this paint India on the global journalism map?  How many times have we seen such unprofessional behaviour on a BBC channel? As an Indian, I am afraid that the reputation of India will be tarnished if this style of journalism is introduced at the global level.

I believe that journalism is about exposing the truth, questioning the merit of an argument and shaping an informed viewer. Not following any media ethics or basic conversational etiquette to garner viewership and bringing out the worst in the public does not qualify as good journalism.

Sorry, Mr Goswami – I can only admire you as a crafty businessman, but not as a journalist!


Image Source: Kapil Mishra/Facebook