To love or loathe

Every man has his moment of weakness, and a few days back I had mine. Before you start imagining things, it’s about an idea your editor and I discussed earlier this week. How about reviewing the news on TV? If the nightlies dominate chatter across living rooms/ social media/ cocktail circuits/ watercooler, surely they should get discussed on newsprint too.

I hate watching news, but I do it all the time. On the tube next to my desk or on my laptop. Or track it via social media. A holiday for me, is being away from the telly.

But to write about television news five days a week within minutes of the nightly shows being aired, is, well... I asked for it.

Television news has been in existence for a few decades. I remember watching it since October 2, 1972, the day the transmission started in Mumbai. The city had some super newsreaders. Siddharth Kak, Harish Bhimani, Luku Sanyal, Sarita Sethi, Nirmal Mathan, Bhakti Barve and even Smita Patil. Until Independence Day of 1984 when the National Network started and we were forced to switch to the Dilliwallahs for news in English and Hindi. Salma Sultan, Tejeshwar Singh, JB Raman, Komal GB Singh, Sunit Tandon, Gitanjali Aiyar, Minu... there were so many of them.

But the Mumbai newsreaders were far better.

Dr Prannoy Roy and the late SP Singh entered the scene and changed the landscape. Singh in Hindi and Roy in English revved up newsnights, and Rajat Sharma added spice to current affairs programming with ‘Aap Ki Adalat’.

Later, Rajdeep Sardesai and Barkha Dutt got on to the act.

While Dr Roy may still be the most respected face on Indian news television, the gamechanger in the business has undoubtedly been Arnab Goswami.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

This column owes its birth to the Times Now’s star anchor. And possibly existence too. But I assure you it’s not going to be only an Arnab-watch. Never ever.

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