Finally, after a few months off screen, an impatient and highly motivated Arnab Goswami came back with his very own channel, Republic TV. And it was a grand comeback too. Never have I seen such enthusiasm in people for a news channel to be aired. The #ArnabWithYouSoon hashtag trended on Twitter while Facebook was populated with unending status updates on the subject of Goswami's return to the screen. And while fans of the anchor could barely contain their excitement, detractors too were eagerly anticipating seeing what Goswami would unleash next.
It is true that the recent big stories involved personalities from the Opposition, but does that automatically mean that the BJP is forever exempt from scrutiny?
The launch of Republic has come as nothing short of a hurricane in the Indian media scenario. Arnab Goswami, after giving an emotional monologue as the camera panned towards him, immediately put his journalist cap on and broke the news of Lalu Prasad Yadav's conversation over the phone with mafia don Mohammed Shahabuddin. Within a minute, it felt as if Arnab had never left the screen. The last several months of his absence were instantly forgotten.
From its first day on air, Republic TV has been making investigative journalism look like a walk in the park. After Lalu Prasad came the turn of Arvind Kejriwal and the corruption charges him and then from nowhere, the Sunanda Pushkar murder case was back in the limelight. The Twitter account of Republic TV is alight with constant updates on a daily basis. It's rather heady stuff.
But not everyone is impressed.
For example, respected Indian Express columnist Shailaja Bajpai wrote an article titled "On The Run" where she critiqued Republic TV, noting its similarities with Times Now and what she sees as its skewed focus on the Opposition: "That they (Republic TV) believe they should be watchdogs of the Opposition, rather than those who govern the country, is a new dimension they have brought to their understanding of their roles."
However I think she and other critics are jumping the gun.
This article was published on 11 May 2017. Republic TV aired its first episode on 6 May. It had not been a full week and Republic TV was already being accused of biased reporting.
Goswami in his monologue said that Republic TV would be a "destination" for facts and straight opinion. This doesn't mean that they will necessarily be running exposés on the BJP government from the very first day. A little patience is required from both the viewers and news experts before they typecast Arnab and Republic as propagandist media.
Attacking Goswami and Republic from day one makes no sense—can we not at least wait for a few months before drawing conclusions?
It is true that the recent big stories involved personalities from the Opposition, but does that automatically mean that the BJP is forever exempt from scrutiny? Or that Republic is somehow beholden to the ruling government? Absolutely not.
Everyone expects Arnab Goswami to take on the establishment and I'm sure that day is not far. Attacking him and Republic from day one makes no sense—can we not at least wait for a few months before drawing conclusions?
We are living in times where free and independent media is under constant assault. On one hand governments are shutting down journalists from reporting the truth and on the other hand, courtesy of the emergence of "fake news", the public is also sceptical of the mainstream media. Such a tense situation demands the support and tolerance of everyone and especially from those who are a part of the journalism community, like Shailaja Bajpai herself.
So, let's hold the judgements for some time shall we?