The bumper 318-page eighth anniversary issue of Impact, the media magazine from Anurag Batra‘s exchange4media group, features dozens of print, electronic, digital and radio professionals recounting their personal stories.
By ARNAB GOSWAMI
In August 2007, Sanjay Dutt was being moved from Arthur Road jail to Yerawada jail in Poona and we were following it keenly. Everybody was in the middle of this crazy chase, looking desperately for a shot, a sound byte, a picture….
In the midst of it all, I received a phone call from a viewer in Bangalore who said that he had been following my career and Times Now for a long time, but he wouldn’t do it anymore.
I was very surprised and asked him why he felt that way.
The person said he had a friend, a colonel in the Indian Army named Vasanth Venugopal, who had died fighting on the border. His body was being brought back to Bangalore but not a single news channel was bothered, so busy they were covering Sanjay Dutt.
There wasn’t even a mention of this martyr on any channel, while Dutt was being covered like there was nothing else happening in the world.
I was very upset and felt very guilty.
I told the gentleman that we would send a cameraman and get pictures of the cremation and do a story on it. That night, after we had done the story, I requested this gentleman and come and talk about his friend.
When I started my programme, and asked the producer whether the person had come, he said, ‘She is here.’
I told him I was expecting a gentleman, not a lady.
The producer replied, “Colonel Vasanth’s wife has come.”
Subhashini Vasanth had witnessed the last rites of her husband barely four hours back, yet she came to our studio.
Nothing has ever moved me as much as what she said that day.
She spoke about her family and her husband’s martyrdom, making me realise that journalism can sometimes lose its way and that we have an obligation to our viewers that goes beyond the narrow perspective of covering a movie star.
Since then, the way we cover the armed forces, internal security, issues relating to Pakistan is far more detailed than any other channel. That incident shaped the work that we do now.
* Disclosures apply
Photograph: courtesy Apoorva Salkade/ Outlook