In a memo to the India Today Group staff, vice chairperson Kalli Purie excitedly introduced . We are certain the newsroom was just as excited. As the employees were reminded by their boss, Chaudhary brings the experience and fanbase of his last show, DNA on Zee News, “one of the largest following on social media” and “a galaxy of awards from every reputable organisation”.
Purie also reminded them – lest they needed reminding (the horror!) – that the “natural home for a household name in news is always Aaj Tak!”
Now, to be fair, the India Today Group is known for innovation in journalism: Madhu Trehan brought the video news revolution to India and SP Singh pioneered the privately produced daily Hindi news bulletin. That was another time, though, another generation. Today, the India Today Group is the “”. Perhaps that’s why Purie didn’t feel particularly pressed to spell out where Chaudhary’s addition to the Gold Standard team would be transformative. The team would understand the undertone, right?
In any case, let’s spell it out for those of us whose standard isn’t all that glittery.
Chaudhary’s hiring is a golden opportunity for the India Today Group to draw on his rich experience in Tihar Jail for alleged blackmail to raise the Gold Standard of its crime coverage. (We propose calling the resulting version Gilding the Gadfly Standard.) He can give Aaj Tak’s viewers a more exciting perspective of crime and prison than ever.
You see, this mushrooming band of sundry anti-nationals who are routinely jailed for pretending to be journalists or activists aren’t worth giving any airtime to, the wretched lot. Historical perspective, you say? Don’t you know all those freedom fighters were incarcerated for doing nothing, quite literally? Moreover, passive resistance and non-cooperation are so lame! Sabse Tez crime coverage cannot be passive. Haters might consider Aaj Tak’s journalism as a crime against sanity, but, boy, do they aspire to more drama than Bigg Boss. After all, what good is television news without the falsetto screaming, the indulge-your-fantasy commando playacting, the cheap CGI wargaming?
Now imagine, if you can, adding to this explosive concoction the real-life experience of a Tihar inmate?
It would be the kind of journalism to inspire young journalists who dream of changing the world.
Maybe an era-defining innovation too, from the media house that gave us Newstrack and India’s once most-read news magazine.
Chaudhary is famously viral for his revolutionary take on nanotech. (Yes, vitality is the point of doing news, you philistines! You are still hung up on the journalism-as-public-service trope?). No, nanotech is not the engine of the pocket-size car Ratan Tata had us all excited about all those years ago; it’s the technology of extraordinarily small things like a pimple on a mosquito’s proboscis, the conscience of media barons, or the amount of journalism in TV news. Bringing in Chaudhary will impart Aaj Tak’s science coverage double engine ka zor.
Don’t get what we mean? One name: . Chaudhary’s show on the nanotech that went into the making of the Rs 2,000 bill was out worldly, and we don’t mean that lightly: the then Zee News anchor had Bapu’s eyebrows shoot out of the physical limits of the legal tender. The only thing that held the surprised Saint of Sabarmati together on that pink bill was a science that we hope Chaudhary will reveal on his new Aaj Tak show. Fingers crossed, brows curled.
Of oaks and acorns
Given his talent for doing outstandingly unapologetic and unselfconscious bigotry-inducing shows night after night, Chaudhary can function in the India Today Group as a vast, shady (no wink emoji here) tree under which many micro-bigots can bloom and push the limits of hatemongering that the bearers of the Gold Standard have so far found too far, in part probably because of infiltration by wannabe secularists. Their monkey balancing can be counterbalanced by new monkeys. Chaudhary can teach new kalabaji kartab to the young pretend-commandos under his wing, soaring and diving together when not hanging upside down pondering what jihad to invent next after flood and thook.
As a bonus, aspiring journalists can get free lessons – if they can but bring themselves to watch India Today Group channels – on what it takes to be hired as the star anchor in a media house that’s the Gold Standard of Journalism. Happy watching, young ’uns!