Arnab Goswami lays down 5 principles of journalism, which he seldom follows himself
Republic TV founder and Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami spoke at the 53rd Foundation Day of the Indian Institute of Mass Communication in Delhi on Friday. Though the topic of his speech was ‘The Road Ahead for Indian Media’, it essentially degenerated into a rant against Goswami’s favourite punching bag – what he calls the Lutyens’ media.
“Journalism institutions usually never invite me to speak at their events. They welcome me with flowers at the beginning but cannot wait to rush me out after,” he said at the start of his speech.
Arnab said, “People ask me why I left New Delhi. The truth is that I never enjoyed journalism in this city. Journalists here do the same damn thing every day, ask the same damn questions, meet the same people, speak the same things, and remain in the same damn positions. They are afraid. Decades of Indian media has been controlled by the same people. I wanted to change that and I am not afraid. I have one question for the Lutyen’s media – you had all the opportunities and resources, then why was there only one scam that was revealed between 1947 and 2010– the Bofors scam? For 63 years, the Indian media has been in the hands of certain politicians and I am here to question that”.
Arnab went on to lay down five principles of journalism that he claims to believe in. Here’s a look at Arnab’s principles and whether they make sense.
“Democraticise the media”
Arnab said, “The entire set up of media today is held hostage to some extent of corportatisation, political compulsion and some answerability. I am proud to tell you that Republic TV and Republic World has broken through these shackles. By democratise I mean one thing; we have changed the rules of journalism. You can never do true journalism unless you free yourself. We have democraticised journalism in the Republic. Let’s democratise the media even more.
While Arnab is right in principle, he isn’t quite true to them. It is a well known fact that Republic TV is not free from political and corporate interests. One of the chief financiers of Republic TV is Rajeev Chandrasekhar, an entrepreneur who is currently serving as Member of Parliament in Rajya Sabha and is also the vice-chairman of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in Kerala.
He is the founder and chairman of Jupiter Capital and one of Jupiter Capital's portfolio companies' AsiaNet News is also the main and largest investors in Republic TV. Chandrasekhar is also said to have stakes in a number of other sectors like defence.
So for Goswami to say that his media house has “broken through the shackles of corportatisation and political compulsion’ is a blatant lie.
“Federalise the media”
Goswami said, “Federalise by principle, why should five big media houses in Delhi define the Indian news system and not 104 other regional news channels that have directly taken news to the roots of India. Federalise because unless you do, the 71 children who died in Gorakhpur will never be highlighted, or the Chandigarh stalking case will lose importance against a worthless political feud story based out of Delhi. There is a world beyond Delhi, there is a world beyond Kejriwal and it is truly sad that when women were being groped and harassed on new years’ in Bengaluru, the national media was busy covering the feud between Mulayam and Akhilesh Yadav. Change the headquarters of news, change the location of news. 1.3 billion people of this country cannot be represented by the media operating out of Delhi. We have changed that at the Republic by tying up with 10 regional channels.”
Arnab has probably forgotten that when the national media was covering the children’s deaths in Gorakhpur on 15 August, Republic TV was busy indulging in jingoism. And speaking of federalisation, why didn’t Republic air the news of school girls allegedly being harassed by CRPF personnel in Jharkhand?
Also, he must remember that the media industry in almost every country functions out of the same city as its government. Changing the Indian media hub to any other city will not result in federalisation.
“Put the nation first”
“This is deeply personal. I will make no compromises with it comes to putting my nationalism before all else. For a journalist, India should be first, Army should be first. It is shameful that Lutyen’s media defends questions against the Army, against the nation and defends ‘Azaadi’ slogans by anti-nationals. Why is there a hesitation by Lutyen’s media to condemn the killing of Lt Umar Fayaz and DSP Ayub Pandit but no hesitation to question the Army for using a human shield to get out of a possible bombardment of stone pelting?” Goswami asked.
This is typical Arnab – concoct a fictitious theory, shout it from the rooftop and begin believing that it is gospel truth. It is a total falsehood that the mainstream media did not condemn the killing of Lt Umar Fayaz, DSP Ayub Pandit or any other security force martyr in Kashmir. On the other hand, how many times has Arnab or his channel questioned the security forces on alleged atrocities in Kashmir? Mind you, asking questions isn’t anti-national. It’s a journalist’s job.
“Don’t be afraid of being politically incorrect”
Goswami further said, “Where will political correctness get us? We have had 63 years of political correctness till 2010. We can see where it landed us, in a pile of corruption. After scams like CWG, 2G, Coalgate, Augusta Westland came out in the open, the then PM Manmohan Singh held a press conference in New Delhi. It was shocking to see that not one Lutyen’s journalist asked the PM a single tough question about these scams and about his name coming up in the Coalgate scam. We at Republic TV aren’t afraid of asking politically incorrect questions”.
It is strange that Arnab should mention tough questions because when Prime Minister Narendra Modi gave him an exclusive interview on Times Now in 2016, he didn’t ask a single tough question. Perhaps Arnab has a different definition of political correctness.
“Re-investigate and re-open cases/scams”
Arnab told the IIMC audience, “I am working very hard to reinvestigate and reopen the Bofors scam. I know many politicians involved in it are still roaming scot free. They must be held accountable. Similarly, the Sunanda Pushkar case has more to it than meets the eye. Republic TV is committed to bringing out the truth in that case,” Goswami said.
It is strange that the cases Goswami wants to re-open involve figures from the Congress party. We can think of a number of cases allegedly involving senior BJP leaders that could be reopened – Gujarat pogrom, Haren Pandya’s murde, Babri Masjid’s demolition, Vyapam scam to name a few. But then when it comes to the present government, Arnab’s driving principle seems to be ‘see no evil, hear no evil, say no evil’. It is strange to see someone as loud and verbose as Arnab abruptly go into silent mode.