Senior journalist GIRISH NIKAM is no more. The much respected journalist died in harness - doing what he used to do best. He recorded his last show for Rajya Sabha TV today, and passed away a little later. Sharp, incisive, balanced, impressively informed, Girish Nikam managed to keep a low profile - as low as is possible when one engages with the who's who of the country on a national channel. Rest in peace, Girish. You did your best, and it was better than most.
When Reliance -- with its deep pockets and political influence across parties -- funded a big media house to legitimise its then-hidden media interests, no one touched the story. No one. NO ONE. Except Girish Nikam. And this was before Reliance Industries -Network18/TV18-Eenadu Television deal.
Even this deal was a major story -- that was not touched by most of the top media houses. TV18’s competitors stayed away. The Hindu refused to publish a media column on this. Karan Thapar's show on media on CNN-IBN, The Last Word, avoided any mention of the deal. ET, IE, Outlook and India Today barely went beyond statistics.
Rajya Sabha TV had just been launched, and Girish Nikam began anchoring his show. We all know how as a former Eenadu reporter, he had written a few years back on Eenadu's hassles, and expected him to have a show on this media deal. And Girish did not let down such fans of his.
With panelists S. Nihal Singh, former editor of The Statesman, Madhu Trehan of News Laundry, and Dilip Cherian, former editor Business India, head Perfect Relations, Girish Nikam tore through the deal, argued that India needs a really good anti-monopoly law for media, questioned how one man can own so much, and then said while 2G tapes (Radia) show every policy is decided by corporates, it will be even more dangerous that Mukesh Ambani will be deciding policy now. Reliance is not interested in media for money, it is obviously for influence, he said.
Girish Nikam could say it because he had conviction, a conviction that made him touch issues which star anchors do not touch.
You want to know how hot did the powers that be found that RSTV debate? Well, here is a guess. It is the only debate you will not find on RSTV website or YouTube. Of course, you will find references to it in several articles on the media.