Goswami has, during his career, broken every rule of journalism but still manages to succeed in ‘popularity’, foregoing credibility. But how did a journalist make a cult following based on propaganda (pun not intended) and strong rhetoric?
In the early 1990s, economic reforms changed the face of Indian news channels. They brought opportunities for private investors to back media channels either by advertisements or ownership. After the economic reforms made things easier for satellite broadcasters, most channels aimed to follow the model set by CNN – which made a mark during Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990 by making the news more or less of a visual spectacle.
Goswami rose to popularity as a mild-mannered and calm journalist who posed hard hitting questions. While Goswami was gaining traction, Media baron Rupert Murdoch launched Fox News in October 1996, which rewrote the rules of TV news diametrically and dramatically.
Goswami took the Fox News model and applied it to the Indian TV news rule book. With the help of some extremist parties he started Republic TV in 2017. From the beginning of Modi Raj, Goswami, fell in love with the macho politics of the new administration. Anti-Pakistan sentiment was always clear in his narrative and played out to his benefit with Indian hard-liners.
Eventually the amalgamation of these factors made Arnab an icon for the Hindu alt-right. Apart from it he was very critical of actors, filmmakers, activists, Muslims and communists. The very communities that have suffered during Modi’s administration.
In a sense, the phenomenon of the 9:00 PM ‘noise’ relayed the hyper-democratization of India; the increasing lower-middle class empowerment made Goswami an anchor which brought middle class catharsis to live television.
Research by journalism think-tank NiemanLab suggests that journalists are themselves divided on how to carry the profession forward in an age of ‘mob censorship’, in which social media harassment of old-fashioned professional journalists is quite common. In that sense, the rise of noisy, insinuation-laden news is a global phenomenon in which the hard-wiring of the citizen’s brains is part of the problem.