The Weekend Leader - Rahul Kanwal | Headlines Today | TV Journalist

A young chief of a news channel, for whom the day never ends

New Delhi


Vol 2 | Issue 28

He is only 30. He gets up much after the crack of dawn. His bedroom looks like a military operations room and after logging in nearly 17 hours of work, he crashes on his bed at well half past mid-night. His family has given up on him. And he confesses, he will need to make lifestyle changes if he wishes to walk down the aisle. That is Rahul Kanwal in a nutshell!  

He is in an industry that feeds on deadlines. It is like fighting a war everyday and every moment there is a need to devise a new warfare. And more often than not, it is a losing war that you are fighting.

Young icon: Rahul Kanwal is just 30, but has already become one of the better known faces of Indian journalism (Photos: Media Watch)

The news industry is such and such is the demand of the business of news on television. When Rahul took up the top job in 2007, he was nearly 26. And the devils of the industry pronounced doom for the man who had instilled his faith and money in a boy who was still on his way to becoming a man, going by the rules and precedence of the industry. But Rahul had them all proved wrong.

Rahul had decided much early in life, what he wanted to make of himself. “By the 10th standard I was certain that I wanted to be nothing but a journalist. My father is an author, thinker and strategist. He pushed me towards reading and writing.

"I started to read books and journals on defence and strategy very early on in life. I was also fond of public speaking and didn’t want to do anything else but be a journalist. I’m glad I followed my dream.”

Rahul’s day begins at 7:30 in the morning when he flips through most of the newspapers Delhi has to offer. His bedroom has four television sets, all switched on and running different channels on them at the same time.

It is akin to a military operations room where Rahul surfs through various national and international channels before he comes to his work desk designed specially at home for conference call with the input team of Headlines Today. It is his work station at home that decides the day’s agenda after discussing the story ideas for the day with reporters from across the country. This is also a quick breakfast time for Rahul. 

To de-stress and prepare himself for the hectic schedule lying ahead, Rahul plays some real sport. He goes to the Gymkhana Club to play a game of squash or swim before work. Soon after entering office by 11.15, he checks mails, scans regional dailies and international news papers, blogs, web sites etc. and prepares for noon news meeting that lasts for about an hour and a half.

At home in office: For Rahul work is part of life, and he is aware that he needs to make adjustments after marriage 

All major decisions concerning evening programming are taken during this meeting. What stories should be packaged, what would be the treatment, the story angles, what will be the focus of which show, everything, and with the end of the meeting, it is time for lunch. Rahul says, “lunch is usually in the office canteen and I bring food from home as I don’t like the cafeteria’s stuff.”

Post lunch, Rahul steps out of the office to meet various contacts over coffee. Rahul feels it is very important to stay in circulation and stay abreast of what’s going on in the Delhi Durbar. When he is not meeting people outside, he sets up meetings with various sections of his channel to review performance and chart out the way forward.

Next, it is yet another round of meetings where the rundown of the evening programmes and his own show is decided. Rahul anchors the programme, ‘Centre Stage’ from 9:00 pm to 10:00 pm. The show has won many awards including the Best Prime Time Newscast at the News Television Academy Awards.

At 10.00 pm, Rahul reviews his show with his team and before quitting for the day, he discusses the next day’s morning agenda. It is nearly 12 hours in office and the day is yet not over for him.

He still has to drive back to what he calls his nest, have a few morsels as what he can claim to be his dinner and catch up with his night time reading before he “crashes” on the bed. And this happens not before he has gone through a few current affairs magazines and done a review of other channels on the idiot box.

Rahul is a complete family man. He spends most of his free time at home. His father is a strategic affairs expert and travels a lot. His Mom works in a convent school and younger brother is in London. He quips, “my family has given up on me. They no longer complain. They’ve realised there’s no point, but settling down will definitely require lifestyle changes.”

Published by special arrangement with Media Watch   

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