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‘I find India’s elite youth disappointing’

I was in Mumbai to interview Shah Rukh Khan for my show One on One...

Kolkata |
January 31, 2009 2:49:26 am

evision anchor Riz Khan of Al Jazeera English made a fleeting stopover in Delhi to interview Pranab Mukherjee.

Khan spoke toHER KALA t news broadcasting in these turbulent times

You were in Mumbai on 26/11. Did you report live from the Taj?
I was in Mumbai to interview Shah Rukh Khan for my show One on One. We were attending the Ernst & Young Awards at Taj Land’s End when we heard of the shootings and we rushed there. Yes,then we were stationed there for the next three days.

The Indian TV media has faced a lot of flak for their reporting on the Mumbai attacks. After 24 years in broadcasting journalism do you have any pointers for reporters?
Actually,I was quite impressed with the reporting. The local media was quick and responsive. Then again,I’m comparing it to what I remember of Indian news which is Doordarshan (smiles). I only wish that they wouldn’t follow cheesy American tabloid culture. India doesn’t need to. There are enough real,interesting stories going around. I’m told,just like in the US,reality shows are hugely popular here.

You’ve been a prominent anchor on BBC and CNN. Culturally,how different is it working with Al Jazeera?
Personally,I think a newsroom is a newsroom; it doesn’t matter whether it’s CNN or ABC. Everyone’s chasing a story or an interview. I feel that budgets for international reporting at BBC and CNN have gone down over the years,while at Al Jazeera it’s gone up. Our world news coverage is much more exhaustive. Other than that,I don’t find it much different.

Do you have any comments on the Al Qaeda choosing Al Jazeera as their preferred broadcast network?
Nobody asked questions when the IRA would give BBC tapes. Naturally,Al Qaeda would prefer Al Jazeera,we reach 80 million households,over 70% of the Arab world. (Whips out an apology from The Guardian) They carried a story saying that we showed beheadings on the channel,then they issued this apology. People have wrong,preconceived notions of what we stand for.

Who are the other prominent Indians you’ve interviewed for your show?
I’ve interviewed Mallika Sherawat and Naseeruddin Shah. I would like to interview Sonia Gandhi. We met while I was on CNN,and I see an untold story there somewhere. She seemed shy and reclusive.

What are the changes you see in India,over the years you’ve been visiting?
I’ve been an advocate of India for many years and I believe in its growth story. But I find the elite youth disappointing. Urban India is full of the BMW-Rolex brigade. This is a land where the rich were trained never to flaunt their money and were by nature,frugal and philanthropic. That’s changed drastically.

You’re not burnt out after over two decades in broadcast news?
(Laughs) I was completely burnt out after CNN where,in the last three years,I had a daily show and news casting as well. I took a two-year break where I indulged my hobbies — drawing,playing the drums and writing. Now I’m back to work. Today I’m in Delhi,tomorrow Washington and on Friday,London. Life goes on.

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