The reason why I could not resist a compelling urge to write an open letter to you is not why you decorate yourself as Nation with your trademark verbal volley “Nation Wants To Know”. Trust me, I am really not jealous with you for being the only Indian journalist to be referred as “Nation” through a self-certified expression with news anchoring. It is different matter that I am not very comfortable calling myself in third person.
Frankly it would not make me any richer or healthier if you stop calling yourself “Nation”. You are rather free to graduate yourself to the next level as “World Bank” or “United nations”. The law of the land does not stop you to decorate yourself with any self-inflicted glory.
In an honest admission I should rather suggest you to do so for better amusement of TV News audience. Imagine how much the TV audience will be really amused with your rhetoric “Mr Minister United Nations Wants To Know” or “Mr Spokesperson World Bank Wants To Know”… as if an Indian journalist called Arnab Goswami represents and controls all these institutions!
I would like to make you aware that a lot of people that I know watch your Prime Time show not for News but for the fact that they find you more entertaining than even typical “Saas-Bahu” soap operas? I must admit that this is no scientific survey (even though I do so professionally otherwise) but the majority of the urban Indians find your shows funny.
I am sure you will continue to get eyeballs because as a society in its collective consciousness it is the “nuisance” and definitely not “news sense” that entertain majority of us. You score pretty well on that count Mr Goswami.
A lot of my journalist friends say that you are not alone and only one to deteriorate the standards of Indian journalism to shouting nonsense. And I agree with them. A closer look at the social composition of media professionals itself suggests elite class urban middle class upbringing, added with poor academics and no news sense with media ownership compulsions only produce sound-byte idiots and not the journalists who can question objectively.
This social composition of media at large is also the trigger point of agenda driven journalism, as if opinionated journalism was not enough to relegate us to be seen as middlemen. You indeed are not alone or only to make me feel ashamed of my own profession. Critical journalism is anyway on the deathbed in this age of “selfie journalism”.
Still, my disgust with you is rather deep rooted and born out of your single-handed and single-largest contribution to the degradation of the very standards of a profession that I am also a practitioner. You see Arnab despite the fact that the journalists were always divided in their opinion and each one of us always thought that we are God’s gift to the world of intellect, in our profession ‘Dog Eats Dog’ was never a reality. You brought this culture to the world of Indian journalism.
Why do you taunt other TV channels in your debates? And wrongly so! Just because your factual errors are lost in maddening street fight in your studio does not mean that they go unnoticed. For example, during every election results in the last couple of years you have cried hoarse that you and only you have access to Election Commission data and in your opinion other TV channels were showing “Drawing Room” election results. But the Bihar Elections exposed your bluff and your projection of BJP-led Alliance leading was exposed by the ETV results which later proved to be right.
I can understand that with the regional State-based channel ETV Bihar had access to more grounded information but that is not the point I am making here. When your own channel does not have access to right information, why do you keep making demeaning remarks on other TV channels? Are you a sadist Mr Goswami?
What you have done in the process is that you drag other TV channels to your own low level of catfight and then obviously you win by experience. The other day I felt equally despicable when a CNN IBN anchor made a remark, “Why are you shouting gentleman? We are a serious news channel to debate and not shout at each other. There are other channels that invite panelists to shout.” Needless to say, from where this culture made inroads into our profession!
Being a journalist from old school of journalism I am conscious of the fact Mr Goswami that journalists and media houses always have had the editorial policies that are inclined to a political party or corporate group. But never in the history of Indian journalism that was followed with compromising editorial integrity and common news sense.
Today, an average TV News audience could make out which channel/journalist is working for which political party. It is a reality today and, I am afraid, we are not far from the day when people at large will hate as much to the journalists as they hate political class. Hats off to you Mr Goswami for making such an outstanding contribution to this noble profession.
At a time when already derogatory expressions like #PaidMedia and #Presstitutes were gaining ground in the collective consciousness at large, you contributed further with a term like #SupariJournalism being accepted as fact than fiction. It hurts to my professional sensibilities sir.
On a lighter note, I am also curious to know what is your BP count (Blood Pressure) after every Prime Time entertainment. As a journalist whenever I moderate a debate for two long hours I get exhausted (even without any shouting or shouldering down to panelists). But then I look at you and your energy level also makes me jealous as to how can you continue with your monologues for so long without any signs of fatigue. You deserve to be India’s highest paid journalist at least for this quality and caliber.
Are you open to the idea of visiting the media institutes to teach the budding journalists as to how to keep energetic after so much of shouting? If you are, please never do so! This is my sincere request for the sake of my profession. I am afraid the new breed of journalists who are already coming without any ideological tilt or mentoring will get all the journalistic lessons for wrong reasons.
These are some of my thoughts sir. Please feel free to dismiss this open letter as rubbish, nonsense or jealousy of a poor journalist. My only request is that you please don’t make this letter basis of a retaliatory Prime Time agenda to punch me with your trademark “Nation Wants To Know”. I am yet to meet the gentleman called “Nation” and I can only respond to Arnab till he remains Arnab.
A less privileged journalist who failed to make a Supari Journalist