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Business in the box


Samir Ahluwalia, Editor, Zee Business
ANANDO BHAKTO | New Delhi, October 30, 2011 17:49
Tags : Zee Business | Samir Ahluwalia | The Times of India | Genesis Colors | Hindu College | Delhi University |

As much as he has been the spearhead of Zee Business, taking the channel from strength to strength with his pioneering vision and effort, and becoming a formidable name himself, Samir Ahluwalia’s personality and approach to work exude the distinct enthusiasm of a newcomer. He has been associated with the Zee group since 1997, when he left a three-year-old stint with The Times of India (where he looked after advertising and marketing) and joined Zee as a correspondent. Seven years later, on October 20, 2004, he became the editor of Zee Business, the country’s first Hindi business channel.

Samir Ahluwalia, 40, is pivotal not only as an innovative journalist, but as an avid family man who drops in to meet his parents (both his mother and father are former journalists) religiously every Sunday and is also available to them at any point of time they might require his presence. “Family comes first, there’s no point working if you can’t take care of your family,” says Samir.

He met his wife of eleven years, Roasie, through his brother-in-law, but since it was “love thereafter” he prefers not to call it an arranged marriage. Mrs. Ahluwalia works with Genesis Colors, and though both of them are usually preoccupied with work for most part of the day, they take time out to look after five cats they have at home. They also feed a dozen other regularly. “That’s the social service I like to do,” Samir tells us smilingly.

An ordinary day for Samir Ahluwalia begins at 7 in the morning. He likes to have a quick look at the business weeklies before he is off for work by 10. “There’s a news meeting at 10:30. We discuss the major stories we have at that time, and then decide which ones need to be highlighted through the day. We keep checking in the stories as they come, assess their importance and air them accordingly. It’s like being on your toes for the next 10-12 hours. I usually leave for home at around 10pm,” he tells us.

Business journalism is demanding not just in terms of the hours of work or the hard work it entails but also in terms of finding out ways to reach out to the average audience. How does Samir manage it all, we wished to know. “Zee Business has reinvented the way India watches business news by bringing in the concept of giving ‘faayda’ (profit) to everyone who watches us. We have given and continue to give the right advice to people so that they can make informed investment decisions. This has helped us draw audience in droves,” he explains. “Besides, our channel thrives on innovation. We were the first channel to redefine the content on the bread and butter stock market programming band. We realised that viewers need to make money and make it fast. Our programming mix is clearly divided into immediate, short term, medium term and long term gains.”

Samir believes Zee’s commitment to give something new to the viewer each time he watches the channel, irrespective of how long he watches it, has helped Zee succeed. Not surprisingly, his role model is Subhash Chandra, chairman of Zee. “He has always thought out of the bag, he has an innovative approach,” said Samir before adding that his parents are his ideal too. When asked what message he would like to extend to budding journalists, he reaffirmed his faith in hard work. “Once you have decided what you would like to become, put in your best efforts for that. Everything else will fall in place.” He underlined the importance of team work. “Anybody dreaming to get into journalism should realise it’s not about me, it’s about us. The day you realise this, your entire thought-process changes.”

We asked him whether a formal training was necessary for entering the media industry, or anybody with a flair for news could qualify. “Obviously specialisation is the key now, it adds value to your performance. When I hire for Zee Business, I’d prefer to hire somebody with an MBA rather than somebody without it,” said Samir, who after pursuing Political science Honours from Hindu College, Delhi University, mastered in the same and then in 1994 did a year long course in journalism from Times school of journalism. He insists that journalism colleges should focus more on exposing students to newsroom environment. “Let them (students) make news bulletins in a weekly or for a local channel. This way the channel gets free content and the student also gets opportunity to work.”

When asked to comment on the mushrooming of news channels and how he sees this evolution, he said: “There’s always going to be particular phases for the media industry. Few years back there were lot of film shows and sports shows. This was followed by crime shows and eventually reality shows. But Zee is moving towards more serious journalism. Over the years you will see channels telling news the way it is supposed to be told.” All the same he believes not having any media activism at all is bad either. “News has to be objective, but some activism is necessary too. Otherwise there aren’t any checks and balances in place.”

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Issue Dated: Feb 5, 2017