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This anchor's firmly rooted

Mini Menon, CNBC TV 18 anchor, doesn't try to live down her Femina Miss India 1996 antecedents

Mini Menon: `People have become more wallet-conscious than political.'

"OH, ALL the news anchors are just a bunch of pretty faces... " If Mini Menon heard you saying this, be assured, you'll get to hear such a rejoinder that you'll never utter those words again. This anchor for the Goodlife on CNBC TV18 doesn't take digs about her job too lightly. Not surprising, since her former Femina Miss India title has prompted many such comments about her being just another well-dressed, smart-talking, teleprompter-dependant anchor. But she ain't any of that.

Mini talks to MetroPlus about her career, secrets about her name that even she wasn't aware of and the art of bringing business news to our living rooms:

For a history graduate, wasn't business news a huge leap?

A lot of history is economic, right from the first barter trade to stock market trading, from the Industrial Revolution to the Great Depression. So it wasn't too difficult to fit. Of course, I had to undergo training... Plus, talking to experts in the field all the time, you pick up little nuances that help you go a long way as a reporter or anchor.

What is Goodlife all about and why is it part of a business channel's agenda?

The show is actually an attempt to move away from corporate news. It talks about corporate health and ailments as a result of a particular kind of job. It's about wellness and health issues that corporates have to tackle. The show covers angiography on the one hand and spas on the other. It teaches you how to improve your life. It's the most popular show on CNBC and the viewership transcends age.

Political coverage still rules the roost in Indian news. Do you think CNBC TV18 would do well to expand its scope?

I don't see why we need to expand or diversify. The investor community is huge! Look at the number if financial dailies and business bulletins — they're a testimony to how important business has become to us. Most news channels actually want to increase their business offering. CNBC is in a position to leverage the niche market. Sceptics have been proved wrong about CNBC again and again, because retail investors have begun to bank on the updates we provide them. People have become more wallet-conscious than political.

Why do you think that is?

See, money hits you directly. It touches your wallet directly. Your Stocks is a call-in show we have so that people can get their investment doubts cleared. And it isn't an easy job. People's savings are at stake; emotions and rumour mongering can topple markets. In these murky waters, we have to give unbiased, balanced news. The best way is to get the info right through the horse's mouth: the CEOs, market analysts, policy makers and other experts.

In your high-collared, tie-and-pinstripe-suit career, where does the Femina Miss India 1996 fit in?

Oh my God! I've always been held ransom to that! See, teens do a lot of things for fun. I also did it for the kicks, but I loved every moment of it! I got to see a little bit of the world, and I used the prize money to pay my way through college. It's a great learning experience for a 20-year-old. But you didn't see me campaigning for beauty products, or joining the film industry, did you?

What is your response when people say `weather girls have now turned anchors'?

Just because someone was a weather girl doesn't mean she doesn't know her politics. But yes, there are a lot of pretty faces in the industry who would not be able to analyse or report anything without assistance. But these people won't survive. Whatever it looks like, news is not a profession of any glamour. It's 24/7 backbreaking work. You must be around as news unfurls and be in step with the events. The pretty faces we see now are just the faces of boom. They'll have to be good at bringing news to your home if they have to stick around long. Before that, we should not deride them for being pretty. You need to presentable in this field, but must also have your facts at the tip of your fingers.


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