Why Arnab Goswami is still India’s No 1 newsman

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Arnab Goswami

The past few years the one topic or rather, the one man who has taken over the internet and hijacked dinner table conversations is undoubtedly, Arnab Goswami.

India’s most-popular anchor shares an intense love-hate relationship with Indian news viewers. Every night, sharp at 9, millions of viewers across the country tune into Times Now, to catch the latest debate on The Newshour, anchored by India’s most prolific news man.

High decibel levels, eye-watering graphics and a screaming match between guests and anchor has come now to characterize India’s most-watched debates. The past few months have been tough on the Editor-in-chief of Times Now. There has been much outrage among viewers over what they call ‘derogatory hashtags’ promoted by the channel on twitter.

It all started with India’s loss to Australia in the semi-finals of the Cricket Work Cup, 2015. The channel began promoting the hashtag, ‘#shamedatSydney’ to incite a debate on what they termed, India’s “shameful loss”. Ever the man to demand accountability in the name of the nation, this time, the move backfired. A cricket crazy nation stood for its heroes and very soon ‘#ShameonTimesNow’ began to trend.

But that’s the mood of the country now. Back in 2007, Times Now beat all news channels in the TRP race. Thanks to Arnab’s candid demeanour of hosting The Newshour.

Arnab began to promote ‘journalism of accountability’. Sentences like ‘The Nation wants to know’, ‘It’s an outrage’, made people sit and take note. As Arnab spoke, people gathered around their TV sets, nodding in agreement. They held on to every word he said.

It was as if Arnab was addressing them directly, in a voice that said “I’m one among you. I know how you feel. I will speak for you”. Never in their lives did they encounter a newsman grilling netas, demanding answers to questions that plagued the middle class. Arnab became the messiah of the middle class. He took politicians head-on and exposed their hypocrisy.

While other news channels adopted a more sober approach to visiting guests on their channel, they often missed out on asking tough questions. Arnab didn’t. He was blunt, did his homework well and wouldn’t let the interviewee get dodgy. There have been many instances in the past when Arnab publicly reprimanded the keepers of the law.

So, when Abhijit Mukherjee, MP and son of President Pranab Mukherjee called the rape protestors ‘painted and dented women’, it was left to an outraged Arnab to school him on behalf of the nation. The Abhijit Mukherjee ‘takedown’ has now become stuff of legends. It has spawned many a meme and even a mashup!

Critics however have taken an acrid view of the “Goswami style of interrogation”. They call his shows “loud”, “uncouth”, “less debate more shouting” and more. Some have even gone to the extent of christening the news anchor ‘meglomaniac’. What India loved and championed, now seems to be just a jarring note.

The outrage on display, appears manufactured, the hollowness of which is evident in live tweets. India’s once-favourite anchor now seems aggressive and extremely opinionated. Often his shows display a sense of lynch-mob mentality.

But that’s about the fall in quality of his show. The fact remains that Times Now is still the most-watched news channel on Indian television and Arnab’s still the man who commands a huge fan following. If anything, Arnab has become a pop culture icon today. He has inspired memes, remixes, mashups, songs and more.

Despite what critics say, he captures the imagination of India – a nation that loves its news and finds entertainment in his unique one-lines that have by now acquired cult status.

 

 

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