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It is easy to overlook the contribution of NDTV’s Roys to journalism. It’s time to fix that | Rare Techy


When I was in my final year of high school, a school friend said that he had seen Prannoy Roy at the petrol pump the previous evening.

What was he doing, I asked. Gasoline filling, he said.

It’s like getting the latest news about a movie star. Prannoy Roy has just been launched The World This Week and changed news television forever. On Friday evenings, you could tell the time by the show’s theme song blaring from all the TVs in the neighborhood (air conditioners were rare then, and all the windows were open ).

So, ten years later, when I went for a job interview at NDTVOffice in a building in south Delhi, I was sure to be in the presence of India’s biggest television star. But, it is Bengali bhadralok who scored highest on every pompometer, I must say it was a no-brainer. On his part, Prannoy is humble, self-deprecating and easy on me. I got the job by maximizing my abilities.

On the first day, I was assigned to write a short article, which we called Vo/Vt. About the downed MiG plane. A few lines later I ended up writing “the black box is alive”.

At that time Dr Roy (or ‘Doc’), where he kept himself on the ball table where we all sat. He was writing his anchor links and repeating what others had written, when at one point, he looked up and asked who wrote the MiG article. My glow definitely shined on the first day and I received many compliments.

“Never ‘save’ anything, dollars,” he said in his half-amused drawl. “Just find them.”

This simple tip was born out of years of study and innovation that would revolutionize media reporting in India. I was taught that the voice of television is always heard, never read. It cannot be written. It’s the simplest piece of advice, asking me to shed the rhetorical style I adopted in my previous academic avatar.

Prannoy Roy sensed my obsession with television, even during my interview. “Television is a very difficult art,” he said. “You have to fight to be heard when the baby is crying next door, the cook is dying in the kitchen, or the phone is ringing.”

Radhika and Prannoy Roy are under-appreciated for pioneering the best practices of international television in India. They are best known for building an agency that has become an incubator for some of the best journalists on Indian television. They seem to do little to find and nurture talent. Very little of the past NDTV The staff, including myself, agree that much of what we know comes from what the Roys instilled in us.

Writing in a language that everyone understands. We learned how not to limit our search for ‘facts’ to authoritative speakers, articles, data, and published research. We were trained to use pictures to tell our stories. In the olden days, when Radhika Roy censored and edited every story that aired on air, we were taught to curb our editorial instinct. The Roys brought us very high standards. If a group of words breaks into another part of the speech, do it again. If we’re going to hang a string hanging from the sky, Dr. Roy will carefully explain how to hang a string. At one point he gave Abheek Barman and I a brief on how to adjust looks for different studio lighting.

Most importantly, they gave us complete editorial freedom. I am the head of a couple of NDTVChannels are a big part of my job. Dr. Roy called only once to complain about something. He argued that the angle was wrong, but I stood my ground.

As it turned out, the story is wrong. Our reporter was sent some fake documents by their ‘source.’ I retracted the statement and explained but Dr. Roy did not call me to be happy. We have apologized for the comments several times, but I have not asked to change anything.

Of course, this is my personal experience and I can’t speak for everyone. But having been a managing editor for two channels for almost a decade, I think my experience will carry a lot of weight.

NDTV often criticized for being a crush on the Lutyens, a close-knit group of English aristocrats. Some of these assumptions are true, as they are for all industries in India. However, no media organization in India has created a Ravish Kumar. No Hindi journalist has been given such a large and accessible space on the network. In fact, Ravish was the first NDTV employee to obtain evidence in his name, Ravish to Report – a name of Prannoy Roy himself. He got it when he was very popular as a journalist but nowhere near the cult status he is today.

It is fashionable to say that the Roys are responsible for everything NDTV it’s today. Experts argue against that NDTVThe company’s decision to move away from its core business of news and venture into entertainment and lifestyle television has helped it raise more money. And in the absence of these actions, NDTV could not be saved.

It’s great looking back, but in the mid-2000s, the only way to survive was to expand. No one thought that the world economy would collapse in two years and destroy all industries.

The global financial crisis of 2008-09 bankrupted many media houses. Survivors did so by distorting the story and turning the news inside out nautanki. That’s the only way to get ratings and attract advertising revenue. I myself was tempted to follow that path. Radhika and Prannoy Roy were steadfast and encouraged me to stick to the classic approach of journalism. At other networks, editors were pressured from owners to get ratings; inside NDTV They told me not to look at the ratings that come in every week.

There’s a lot more to the Roys, things that most of us haven’t shared in a public way. Now that they’re on their way out, it’s important to acknowledge their hard work, not just us. NDTVbut to do it all.

Radhika and Prannoy, I did not show you the respect you deserve when I was close to you. Let me fix that today.


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