Sixteen years ago, Arnab Goswami stormed onto our television screens. As the new face of Times Now, coming off a more subdued stint at NDTV, he shouted, he heckled, and he stirred the beating hearts of the Indian middle class.
He also ushered in a new, dynamic era of broadcast journalism, where primetime anchors firmly placed themselves at the centre of the news, marking a shift from Doordarshan-style tranquillity to belligerence.
A constellation of news anchors followed suit and it became conventional wisdom to have an Arnab knock-off on every channel. There's Anand Narasimhan who leads primetime on CNN-News18, Rubika Liyaquat on ABP News, and even old hands like Deepak Chaurasia changed their style to fit in.
There is also someone who, when she shifted to TV, seemed a most unlikely candidate – she had been known as an investigative journalist, described by a former colleague as “a very good reporter and a very good hustler”.
That person is Navika Kumar.
She had joined Times Now months after its launch in 2005. By 2007, she was running the Delhi bureau under Goswami’s mentorship. When Goswami surprisingly exited Times Now in 2016 – seeking, , “independence from the fake media” – he left a void that was, surprisingly, easy enough to fill.
Independent journalism is not possible until you pitch in. We have seen what happens in ad-funded models: Journalism takes a backseat and gets sacrificed at the altar of clicks and TRPs.
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