Nikhil Waghle is the editor of IBN Lokmat Marathi news channel. He, a well known journalist of Maharashtra, expresses his views toDanish Reyaz in an exclusive meet.
How did your journey start? Please describe your early days.
I started my career as a journalist when I was 20 to 21 year old. I was the youngest Editor of weekly Deenank. After that I started a literary magazine called Akshar, which was very popular amongst the literature lovers and it had received many literary awards. In 1983 I started sports magazine Satkar, in 1985 an entertainment magazine Chandori and finally in 1990 I started the Daily newspaper Apla Mahanagar. In 1992 I started the Hindi edition of Mahanagar after realizing that in Mumbai the number of Hindi knowing people is increasing.
From 1994 I got associated with various television talk shows. I was consulting editor in Tara. I was the show anchor of Zee news channel. I joined IBN Lokmat In 2007and still I am working for the same group.
What is the secret of your popularity in Maharashtra?
It is not true that I am the popular journalist of Maharashtra, It’s your opinion. But I can say that I am a journalist with common man approach. I am not a thinker or leader but I am a voice of Aam Aadmi. I am also working as a bridge between government and common people. A man who is living far from the city and has any problem then it is my duty to inform the government and solve the issue. I believe that our Indian constitution has given equal rights to every citizen. Through journalism I am playing a common man’s journalist role and people like me for that reason.
In various issues we have seen that Nikhil Waghle is always there. Why your name is called for most burning issues?
It’s true that you can hear my name in lot of issues of Maharashtra, because I want to play my role, I want to participate on those issues. The issue might be against police, government or opposition parties. I want to protect the last man who is living in a village and does not have much idea about the issues. I am a man who likes truthness, I want to talk truth and as a result I get surrounded with controversies. I am always ready to tell the truth without any hesitation and then I am also ready to face any consequence.
Why do not you have relations with Shiv Sena?
My love-hate relationship with Shiv Sena began in 1979 when they attacked me. It was first attack on me by notorious people. I am not against Shiv Sena but I am against their Gunda Gardi approach. If Bala Saheb Thakre keeps protecting these rogue elements then I will keep writing against him. I will write and express my views against anyone who will protect gundas or bad elements. Shiv Sena is using Shiva ji name in wrong manner and it is not true they are true lovers of Maharashtra. I had exposed this approach and shown the real picture of Shiv Sena.
Why Journalist is the soft target in Maharashtra?
Yes of course Maharashtra has become a place for soft target by attackers. More than three thousand journalists have been attacked. I have also faced many attacks. In Maharashtra many groups and Mafia are active, if you are exposing oil mafia, sand mafia or any other groups then obviously they will hurt you. We have seen in last 20 years that the political arena of Maharashtra has got criminalized. The criminalization of politics has also victimized the state. Many committees, like committee of protection of journalist, have been formed by governments but nothing had happened. In the case of J. D. Murder we have seen that killers are arrested but godfather of this conspiracy are still far from the police catch. Who was behind the killing no one knows. In 1992-93 riots Shiv Sena was accused by Sri Krishna Commission but nothing has happened so far. Today MNS workers are beating Rickshaw Drivers tomorrow they will beat common people, but government is still silent. Meanwhile I think criminalization of Politics is probably the biggest danger for this state.
What is your suggestion to tackle the attack on journalist by rogue elements?
If anyone assaulted any journalist in the state, the government should take quick action against him. I was assaulted by members of Shiv Sena but government did not taken any action against Sanjay Raut, who was behind this attack. If police will take action and do their work properly then I am sure we can control these assaults. If government makes it a non bailable offence and cases are resolved by the fast track court then the crime against journalist will be very low.
We have seen that many journalist are also not doing good job, in the name of journalism they are doing some unethical work. What is your comment?
Yes of course a lot of journalists are not doing their job honestly. In the name of journalism their work is harming our community, but if the 80% journalist are blackmailer, money maker etc. then why you are ignoring rest 20%. Why those journalists who are honest in their field suffer because of others. If the 80% population of India is corrupt then law and order will not be implemented properly. My opinion is that politicians are making our journalists corrupt.
Please give your opinion about ethical journalism and paid journalism?
Ethical journalism is doing the job very well and honestly. Now the people are aware about paid journalism. Most of the journalists who have a bright career people believe on their thoughts like N. Ram, P. Sainath, Rajdeep Sirdesai etc have their own credibility. If they are supporting or exposing any issue then readers believe and react accordingly but if someone is planting paid news readers also protest against it.
Individually we can tell that who is the credible and who is not, but if the media house doing this job then how we can suggest our readers that this is not fare?
If you are doing wrong one day you will get exposed and lose your credibility. We are living in a mature world you cannot be fooled for the long time.
What is the secular look of journalism?
Our constitution is secular and we are the fourth pillar of the democracy. It is our duty that we maintain communal harmony and work for the development of the nation. If we are working properly and exposing bad elements of the society then we will grow positively. But I have seen that many journalists and media houses not are doing this job accordingly. In the Babri Masjid Issue and in the communal riots most of them have provoke their readers. I think it is not good for a secular country.