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SHARP FOCUS Rajdeep Sardesai: `Journalists should have individual areas of expertise' PHOTO: R. RAGU
SHARP FOCUS Rajdeep Sardesai: `Journalists should have individual areas of expertise' PHOTO: R. RAGU

Journalists should be at the centre of all content-gathering exercises, says Rajdeep Sardesai, the man behind CNN-IBN

Many years ago, news on television meant watching a series of ribbon-cutting functions and speeches. It was dreary and hardly attracted viewers. Today, all that has changed, as private news channels have moved away from stuffy studio rooms to a new delivery system. They break news from the locations where it happens, use informal language and make it entertaining for the viewer. Every channel is hungrily hunting for its "exclusive" and will go all out to get it.This seems to have worked. In the last two years, average news viewing share increased to roughly 55 minutes in a cycle of 24 hours. The television news advertising revenue has touched Rs. 500 crore a year and is growing at a fast pace. Everybody in the media wants a piece of the cake. Last year, there was a proliferation of news channels and more have joined the bandwagon this year - the latest being Times Now. One such is CNN-IBN, the brainchild of journalist Rajdeep Sardesai. Excerpts from an interview with him: What made you launch a new channel in an already cluttered market?The desire to do something different and to try and use my years of experience in journalism to create what I believe will be a journalist-driven channel.What is the broad framework of CNN-IBN? Tell us about your role.My role is to handle the editorial of CNN-IBN. CNN is with us in a co-branding arrangement. But the editorial is entirely driven by IBN. You have been calling it `a journalists' network'. What does it mean?I believe a journalist should be at the centre of a content-gathering exercise. That journalists should have individual areas of expertise and be given growth opportunities based on their expertise. A journalist must have a passion and a nose for news. That's what we are looking for.How big is the English-speaking audience that you are targeting?We believe that there is an Indian language called English and we are targeting English speakers across the country.How different are you and who are your target viewers?If you watch our channel closely, you will realise that we have our own identity. I leave it to viewers to judge us. We will always respect our viewers, never talk down to them. We will give them not just the story, but also the context.Like other news channels, will you be concentrating more on North-based news and neglect the South, which consists of the bulk of English-speaking viewers?We've been on air for sometime now, and if you see our mix, you will realise that we are where the news is, whether it is North or South. We have strong bureaus in the South and that is being reflected in the way we cover news in the South.SREEDHAR PILLAI

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