There was a time when journalism was suave and straight faced. People of my age grew up with Doordarshan and then Debonair Pranoy Roy burst into our homes with his slick magazine style news and analysis show. It was once a week but it was the show we all waited for.
All the “fighters“ who we see these days on various channels had their beginnings with Pranoy Roy. One notable who has become the problem child of Show TV is Arnab Goswami.
There was a time when Arnab spoke only English. And there was time when he could hardly coin a phrase in good Hindi. Pranoy Roy’s channel still maintains chaste English though NDTV has a Hindi channel too where Ravish Kumar is ruling since decades. Arnab’s leaving Pranoy Roy and joining Times Now was one of the best moves Arnab made. It gave him a free reign and independence where his personality blossomed.
Arnab joining Times Now and India joining the world series of scams together with Mumbai Terror Attack was correct timing and opportunity for Arnab Style Show TV to go viral. Comparatively, Arnab had the upper hand always. His appearance, his vocalisations, presentation style was idiosyncratic. No other TV presenter could equal him. They still can’t.
There was a time when Arnab appeared on TV with CGI Fire burning on screen. Where Pranoy Roy and others had two, or four, max guests on screen, Arnab came with Ten talking Heads. Arnab could have twenty talking heads, because, He does all the talking. Invariably, Arnab’s style caught on.
How do we know that Arnab’s style caught on? Because other channels derided it. As Arnab has became a personality of his own, other Channels also started creating their own personalities. And they had advertisements showing, “Only news, no Shouting”. But gradually everyone started shouting. Arnab really changed the rules of the game.
Arnab had done three things, notably. One, he adopted “Journalism of Ruckus”. Two, he started speaking in Hindi, mostly. Three, he broadcasted his right wing leanings. All three are a hit combination in the majority Hindu and Hindi speaking India.
“Journalism of Ruckus” is down to earth street class journalism. Suppose, right now there is a ruckus outside your house. What do you do? You watch out through your window/door or wherever. You talk to each other, you’ll try to find out what really is happening. You’ll get different versions. The more versions you get the more your curiosity grows. Your gossips will get an edge of confrontation. Without anyone realising it, you’ve have added and contributed to the Ruckus. In totality, the Ruckus outside your house gets into your timeline.
This is “SocialMediaFication” of Prime Time TV. The viewers will invariably catch on to the arguments of talking heads on screen, will argue themselves at home in front of TV and will not listen to the talking heads who are not subscribing to their line of thinking. Don’t worry. ALL Your “Not Listening” is carried forward by Arnab on Your Behalf. Also, you’ll have Twitter or Facebook, the best tool of polarisation. By the time the show is over, the viewer and Arnab are one and always on the “Right” and correct side.
So, a Ruckus on TV today, a Ruckus on TV tomorrow, a Ruckus on TV day after, and so on. It is a sure shot attention getter. Information is the least of the worry. The idea is to get YOU spew your prejudices and biases and roll over it, figuratively. This is what Arnab is doing every day since nearly a decade. And no one is wiser, still.
Besides, somewhere along the way, Arnab realised the importance of Hindi and started speaking it deliberately. These days he uses chaste Hindi words which enthrals everyone. This mastery over spoken Hindi gave him various edges. One, Hindi speakers are over Fifty Percent spread all over India. Two, there are more scams up north than south of India so grilling ministers in their own language has a lot of following. And, most of the Pakistanis are comfortable with Hindi than English.
For some individuals, Ruckus style TV will have some expiry date. But for many, this is the daily event of the day. People reading books, watching movies or games will always be in a minority. For the majority, Arnab is their Show.