I welcome pressure and thrive on pressure: Arnab Goswami
He has been the face of Times Now since its inception. Though there are many who feel he is too loud and doesn’t give the guests on his show ‘Newshour’ a word edgeways, Arnab Goswami, President News – and Editor-in-Chief, Times Now and ET Now, continues relentless and stresses on being a “lambi race ka ghoda”.
Adgully caught up with Goswami on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of Times Now, who spoke about the instinctive and soul driven journalism that drives the channel, the growth of broadcast media in India, how he prepares for his show and much more. Excerpts:
AG: As Times Now completes 10 years, what have been the key landmarks in this journey?
Arnab: I think the 26/11 coverage was one. Coverage of scams between June 2010 and February 2011 was a very important phase. Coverage of elections and breakthrough coverage of Lalitgate in 2015 were also very important. If I had to pick four phases, these would be the ones.
AG: What are the key factors that you would like to attribute your growth to?
Arnab: The team, the team’s hard work, and belief in us. I am just the leader of the team, or to some extent the face of it.
AG: One of the changes in journalism that you said was opinion-based journalism. When ‘Newshour’ started, it did raise many eyebrows. How did you deal with that?
Arnab: It doesn’t matter how many eyebrows it raises as long as people are watching it. Opinion is there everywhere. As they say, opinion is freely available, but facts are often rare. When we opine on any issues, it is backed by facts. For instance, we opined in the Lalitgate case on what was done by the politicians. When you base your opinion on grounded research, factual information and proper facts, then the whole combination changes.
AG: How would you sum up Times Now’s brand of journalism?
Arnab: It is gut-free, instinctive and soul driven journalism. It is not journalism born out of Excel sheets.
AG: You took time to gain foothold in this industry. Nowadays, people are increasingly impatient. What is your advice to them?
Arnab: In many professions, it is important to be a ‘lambi race ka ghoda’. It is still relevant today. Professional life is a marathon and not a one day game or a T20 series. And I am looking forward to an innings where I can take my ideas forward. I am still learning to play the shots, and my best shots are yet to come.
AG: Where do you see journalism headed today? Is there a lot more cynicism and pessimism?
Arnab: I don’t have time for cynicism. I am a very positive person. People who are not in touch about what is happening in India are not able to see the demographic explosion which will be supporting the media revolution yet to come. The next two phases – that is, 2016-2017 and 2018-2020 – will be very crucial for growth. I am really excited and young journalists and content creators reading this should know that together we will create a media revolution and by 2020, put India on the global map in terms of global media and become much bigger than any country can imagine.
AG: How you see broadcast media growing in light of the growing clout and use of digital media?
Arnab: It will export. Bandwidth will become cheaper. As people consume more bandwidth, my content will be able to reach more audiences. Audience will grow to 100-plus million in the next 4-5 years, compared to 25 million in English media right now. If English media reaches 100-150 million, the possibilities are endless.
AG: What are the things that you would like to see in the next two years?
Arnab: I would like to lead thousands of journalists and content creators in the digital era.
AG: You have been the face of Times Now. Does it pressurise you?
Arnab: I welcome pressure and thrive on pressure.
AG: How you prepare yourself before a debate?
Arnab: I prepare myself with all the details. Even if a single information is missing, then I don’t take a stand. If someone has better information than you, they will be able to convince the audience. Recently, when we were debating on the Haji Ali case, a few people knew a lot about Islam and had decent knowledge about Hinduism too. To debate with such people is more of a challenge than an opportunity. So we have to gather all the facts.
AG: How much time do you spend on research?
Arnab: I spend half of my day on ‘Newshour’. I have a fantastic team which does the ground work for me. I spend my day meeting people from the editorial, the ‘Newshour’ team, the research team, etc. I normally avoid meetings after 6 pm so I can be in my own space three hours before the show.
AG: How much do you rely on social media inputs?
Arnab: Not much, maybe 1 per cent.
AG: What are the 10 pertinent questions that you have asked?
Arnab: If you sum up all the questions, they are eventually all questions the aam aadmi wants to know. Sometimes the successful questions are the simplest ones. You don’t rely on bookish information, but rely on your heart. Because at the end, there is a right and wrong. My facts are complicated, but my questions are always very simple.
AG: You have changed the way news is delivered...
Arnab: I am only an agent of change. The way news was done in 2005-2006 was not the way it should be done. Every story would end up blaming the government. We have taken that cynicism and people want to take change in their own hands. We have given voice to the people, and when you give people voice, the people in power are scared of public opinion as they are answerable to them on a daily basis. Earlier, politicians used to go to the people every five years, we make them come out every night. I think that’s very empowering. TV is a young medium in the country, maybe 10-15 years old, and we are levying this medium.
AG: How is your typical day?
Arnab: My day starts with a long editorial call where 20 people are patched in. It starts very early. So, half an hour after waking up, it is a long endless con-call and the teams from Delhi and Mumbai are patched in. Sometimes 30-40 people are there on call and we discuss what to do. We pretty much figure this out during the con-call.