Life after Arnab

02 Dec,2016


By Shailesh Kapoor


It’s been about two weeks since Arnab Goswami went off-air, and it may be a while before we see him a hosting primetime news show again. Over a decade, and especially since 26/11/2008, Goswami had built a cult following that does not have any parallel in India’s news economy. You either loved him or hated him. There were no in-betweens. And even his harshest critics, including those running competition channels, could not ignore him.


Clones of the Newshour show mushroomed across English, Hindi and regional news channels over the last five years. Journalists with more years on their CV than Goswami’s were forced to adapt to a new style of reporting and debating, where taking a stand and pushing it through was not only seen as legitimate, it became the only valid style of journalism.


It’s fair to say that Arnab Goswami has transformed the Indian news landscape. The jury will be out for a long time on whether this transformation is a positive one. But it’s a transformation alright.


I’ve been a fairly ardent viewer of the Newshour show over years, though there was always the need to take occasional detox breaks from the show. If you have been an ardent follower of the man yourself, you would know that there are many around us who would judge us for watching and liking him. “How can you watch these meaningless shouting matches every night!”


To confess, sometimes, I even questioned if I had bad taste in news. But I couldn’t really get off the show. And today, I know why. Because there are simply no viable alternatives. Over the last two weeks, in search of a primetime news show I can gravitate towards, now that Goswami is off-air, I tried all the English news channel options available, right from 8 to 11pm. What you get is not very encouraging.


Many of these shows are clones of the Arnab format, and in a very ‘wannabe’ way too. And the others are simply deathly boring, with no personality to keep you interested.


News is available online through the day. Hence, primetime telecast cannot possibly be about headlines, especially in the English category, where a majority of audiences are well connected digitally. It has to take the agenda forward and provide something more than just telling us what happened. When Goswami decided to use debating as the format of his primetime show a few years ago, was it a conscious way of differentiating against the omnipresence of news online, I wonder!


The search on the English news genre being futile, I moved to the Hindi news category. In Ravish Kumar, I found the closest option. There are two things Kumar and Goswami share. Both have strong, well-defined personalities, be it their style of talking or taking a dig or just commenting on the state of affairs. These personalities, while distinct from each other, have a strong sense of wit and bravado, almost nonchalance, woven into them. They are anything but boring.


The second connecting element between the two is their confidence to take a stand on a topic and see it through with commentary that’s decisive. In this, I like Kumar even more, because his articulation is more colourful and vivid.


But Ravish Kumar does not do multi-window debates. And hence, much as he’s a good replacement, he has not been able to fill the Arnab Goswami vacuum for me.


But irrespective of whether you watched Goswami or not, or what your replacement anchor is, a vacuum has certainly been left behind. Will we see an Indian news journalist as powerful and influential as him again in our lifetime? I won’t bet on that. So, I would rather wait for him to make an on-air comeback soon.


Now that’s a good 2017 wish to have.


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3 responses to “Life after Arnab”

  1. Punathil Poyil Ravindran says:

    I had an inkling about his positive energy when he was in NDTV which was let out in full stream in the next 10 years or so. Many people, some of them criticized, followed up next in their Channels. I am still a regular at News Hour, but admit miss the punch. Hope to revive my happy evening hours very soon.

  2. ashok759 says:

    Some of the colleagues he has left behind should join him in his new venture.

  3. Deadlyrocker says:

    I had subscribed to Times Now only to watch Arnab expose the numerous culprits across landscapes – his style of presentation, his aggression et al were the key reasons for the immense popularity that the channel enjoyed. I have unsubscribed from the channel now. While the other anchors are good – no doubt – Arnab was DIFFERENT :). I have exchanged notes with people from different walks of life some expressing immense loathing for him but still hooked on to the Prime time hour only to watch him:) That’s Arnab for you (Y)

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