The video clip of Arnab Goswami’s last day at his former organisation giving his farewell speech was watched by close to 8 lakh people on YouTube, with many commenting that they would not watch the channel he worked for, anymore. That’s a very unlikely public reaction in a world where journalists are one of the most hated beings, and where they are hurled with the choicest of abuses like “paid media” and “presstitutes” (whatever that means). Perhaps, his insane popularity among the upper middle class educated clan has to do with the Newshour anchor’s own disdain for the traditional media. In a recent interview, he said: “I have declared my independence from the fake media, compromised media. I don’t need security, but we will raise these questions. The only question is this: Will we ask difficult questions or will we avoid them?”
He left a channel that he built from the scratch on his own, last November following an alleged high-handed approach of his employers. Before ending his farewell speech, he declared in his peculiar style: “The game has just begun”.
In the intervening five months, Goswami has appeared on several public platforms to talk about his dream project. And on more than one occasion he has spoken about being a David against the corporate “Goliath” and has washed dirty linen in public. He even spoke about not being allowed to enter his own studio just two days before he left because of his editorial stance. All this while he has clearly maintained that he is patriotic and allergic to corruption but he is neither an AAPtard nor a Bhakta nor a Congi (All slangs for AAP, BJP and Congress supporter).
Interestingly, while he has been giving an impression of fighting this holy war against the corporate media, the funding for his own channel has come under the spotlight. Kerala NDA chairperson and Rajya Sabha MP Rajeev Chandrashekar had invested Rs 30 crore in the ARG Outlier, of which Republic TV is a part and Goswami is the managing director. Questions were raised about how fair he could be when his biggest investor was a politician. To this he said:
I am proud to have Rajeev Chandrasekhar as one of my largest investors. Like him, other investors believe in our journalism. Our journalism will speak for itself.
In the same interview, he clearly spelled out his editorial policy.
Let me declare it to you that I am pro-military, pro-India, pro-nationalist. That does not make me right-wing. I think it is a pseudo, elitist unresearched, Lutyens’ media philosophy which describes people who are pro-army and pro-nation as right-wingers. 99 per cent of India is, 100 per cent of India, should be.
If he says he was restrained in his former office, we can pretty much imagine what is to come our way. Remember the famous grilling of Om Puri on his channel, something that put many of us to shame and wondering why a poor man is being badgered on national television despite a public apology for passing an unceremonious remark on a soldier.
However, it’s not about his stand on issues or the kind of journalism he pursues. The argument here is that his clout as an individual journalist and brand cannot be ignored. It’s a great model to look at for any young journalist who aspires to b a brand unto themselves, who will not be bogged down by the tyranny of corporate. He found his own style, people loved it. Many unsuccessfully copied him. But, the fact remains that Goswami is the single most popular face on English news channels and his success cannot be belittled by any disagreements we have with his way of journalism.
His clout can be gauged by the public fight he has opened up with his former employers. In a facebook post, he alleged, “a media group has sent me a 6-page letter threatening me with imprisonment if I ever use the phrase “Nation Wants to Know”.” This is the phrase that Goswami used to become the ‘voice of the country’.
Addressing his audiences, Arnab, who is neither on Twitter nor on Facebook, penned this NewsHour style monologue on the Facebook page of Republic TV. Notice how it has been written like a poem and not a facebook page.
My Dear Viewers,
I have just received yet another legal threat.
This time, I am sharing it with you.
They say they own the phrase “Nation Wants to Know”
I have watched the nervous antics of this media group with amusement and horror for the last few months.
Today I am replying to them. In public.
To them, I say: The threat of imprisonment will not deter me.
Bring your moneybags and your lawyers, file the criminal case against me for using the phrase “Nation Wants to Know”.
Do everything you can, spend all the money you have and arrest me. I am waiting right now in my studio floor. Come, enforce your threat.
Viewers, the phrase “Nation Wants to Know” belongs to you, to me, and to all of us, every citizen of this country.
It symbolizes what we do, pick up issues for the people, ask, question and seek accountability where it is due.
I have used the phrase with pride, in my reporting and on debates for the last 20 years. And I am deeply indebted to each one of you who have found my journalism worthy of representing public interest.
Every Indian has a right to use that phrase. And this phrase comes from the heart.
Every Indian, through his or her questioning spirit, can use the phrase Nation Wants to Know.
I ask the people of India today: should I stop using this phrase because this media group threatens to imprison me if I do?
For the last few months, every dirty trick and every attempt at intimidation has been carried out against me and my team. My team members have been harassed and even threatened with “untoward action”.
This media group’s aim has been to somehow stall and delay the launch of Republic TV. To somehow try and make sure that a group of journalists determined to pursue the truth on behalf of the people are held back.
Yet, like a belief whose time has come, team Republic is unstoppable.
And to the media group I say: Bring it On.
The effect is completely different when you hear him say the same:
It seems like this is going to be one hell of a fight. In a response to media crtique website Newslaundry, a Times Network official was quoted as saying: “Nation Wants To Know is a catch line used by Times Now for years. It differentiates us from competition and is also an integral part of our identity. The same has also been filed by us for trademark registration. In January 2017, a little-known media company tried to file for the same and subsequently, we served them a caution notice with our objection.”
To be honest, no one can take away ‘Nation Wants To Know’ from Arnab Goswami. That’s evident when you see the kind of support he received on social media platforms despite not being present there.
We do not know how Goswami is going to change how news is served, but one thing that seems certain is he is going to be a newsmaker in the run up to his channel’s launch.
Well you know what we mean, when you check him out in this video where he modelled for a magazine cover.