Palki Sharma Upadhyay, a Delhi-based journalist with over two decades of experience and known for her coverage of world news in WION-based show Gravitas recently launched ‘Vantage with Palki Sharma’ after she quit her former company to join as the Managing Editor at Firstpost.
Vantage premiered on January 26, 2023 on the YouTube channel of Firstpost and continues to provide extensive coverage on world happenings with Palki being the host. The show airs at 9 PM on weekdays on Firstpost.com and its YouTube channel while at 10 PM on CNN-News18.
Weeks into the launch of Vantage, Palki connects with FPJ to share her goosebump moment, career as a journalist, and much more.
Taking a deep breath Palki says, “I would be lying if I said that I was not nervous when the camera was rolling on Republic Day to air the first show of Vantage. And I was also very excited at the moment.” “As a journalist, we never have a monotonous day and new challenges and concepts often come our way. To literally start from scratch after being years into the field, think of a new concept and plan a show and put all thoughts together was very rewarding as well as thrilling,” she adds.
“Viewers will always compare me Gravitas and Vantage. But, Vantage is something new and must be rolled out without expectations, I believe,” the journalist reveals while pointing out the show is doing good and the feedback from viewers is appreciable. However, she later agrees that it is difficult for people to watch ‘Vantage with Palki Sharma’ without acknowledging her set standards and style of covering world news.
Is digital the future of media and news?
In the recent past, we have seen several broadcast journalists embracing independent media or the digital platform. To name a few, Faye D'Souza, Ravish Kumar, Barkha Dutt and even Palki Sharma. Does this transit trend hint that TV as a medium is dying? Palki comments, “The audience is already on the digital platform and media needs to catch up now. Everybody now talks of the digital first but that doesn’t mean that television would die.”
“Newspapers haven’t gone obsolete as broadcast came in, and so will digital not affect the other media forms. But all create their own space while trying to tap on audience. Yes, through Vantage, we are trying to keep the digital audience in mind,” she adds.
In the era of TRP fudging and scams, we seek Palki’s response whether digital is a better metric to gauge viewership and attract advertisers. “TRP system is broken and we know that. It is flawed. For that matter, all systems beyond a point can be a concern. Even digital sees creators pumping up their numbers,” she says while pointing out the feature of digital to provide feedback in realtime. “Digital makes communication truly a two-way process,” Palki says.
“But in terms of money, things are still work in progress. Consumers are not ready to pay for watching content most often. With truly compelling great content, people will be okay to pay for news consumption online,” Palki adds while suggesting that digital gives media houses more liberty and freedom to experiment. In her view, the new media escapes the systemic boundations and it is an exciting space to be in as it can be explored. “I think this is the future,” she agrees that the next-gen would prefer consuming news on digital mode rather than traditional alternatives.
Social media trolls and handling feedback
Be it the launch of Vantage that hit the Zomato-Blinkit billboard trend or any other, Palki is an active user of social media who never fails to engage her followers. While speaking about audience feedback via social networking sites, she says, “If you have put yourself out there on social media, one should be open to all feedbacks and be ready to take whatever comes your way.” “Compared to my peers, I had done it fairly good and people are largely kind and not abusive,” she expresses it out to FPJ.
“We take feedback very seriously and note whatever people have to say about the show,” having said that Palki expressed that the Vantage team believes in sailing fast to make the show achieve great heights and in this regard, feedback from the viewers is valuable in making the experiment a success. She encourages people to convey what they find is working out good and what needs more effort. “We’ll try working out on the latter and will do that for sure.”
Opinion, bias, and objectivity
Is opinion the need of the hour in news reporting or should it be left ‘objective,’ we ask Palki as her show Vantage goes with the tagline - Our take on the world. “To say that we don’t have an opinion would be lying. Opinion and bias reflect in every stage, right from picking one story and neglecting the other and the pace in which it is put forth to the viewers.” “One must stand up for what they believe in. And expressing it out matters. However, it is important to be honest.”
Take on sexism
Palki sees that the scenario is changing and there’s a positive change as she says, “Sexism is there in the society we live in. What is changing, for the better, is that we are open to discuss it and remediate it as well.” She believes that in the future, by the times her children enter into doing jobs, they would have a much better environment to operate in.
Palki talks about her work-life balance
Palki, who is a mother of two kids, shares a glimpse of her personal life and says that she spends quality time with her family. “I spend the weekend with them and also when they are going to school, I get them some time from mine.” “Maybe my way of giving them time is different from my neighbour, but there are no complaints. But I see myself striking a work-life balance where I don’t need to let go one for the other.”
A little more into the conversation, she expresses that balancing home and job can get a little tricky for working women. As a mother, Palki extends to say, “I never want to give out an impression to my children that I am juggling between things. I frankly put out that this is my worktime and that I don’t want to be disturbed. And that’s okay. So, my kids when they grow up will not feel guilty to be in a situation like this which demands spending long hours at work.”
Is it tricky to have both husband and wife sharing the profession?
There’s a notion that both the husband and wife working in the same profession can be tough, however, Palki doesn’t agree to this much and says that her better half and NDTV journalist Sanket Upadhyay is not just a spouse, but also an advisor to her and it’s viceversa. “We can understand the situation much better when in the same profession but it may depend on the profession as well.” She points out that respect and understanding are the key binders in any relationship and if those go missing then it gets tricky.
News often is delivered in a serious tone, but humour is important
“Humour is very important in everything,” Palki says while addressing how the promotional videos of Vantage were packaged in a light-hearted and trendy way. She opines that be it personal conversations or in news, wit is important and makes things powerful. “Unfortunately, news often is delivered in a serious tone, but wit is important and it of course need not be abusive as it is at times perceived.”
Palki gets nostalgic…
“When I started as journalist, it was fun to be on TV. The feeling was somewhat dramatic but good,” Palki says while feeling little nostalgic. “Over the years, it has taken sweat and tears, but I appreciate what I am doing. I didn’t even think that this is how I’ll end up doing,” she reflects while feeling grateful about the journey she has taken in the field of journalism.
Who’s Palki’s inspiration? Her mother.
With smiles and adore, Palki says, “I always look up to my mother. She was a teacher who has seen a lot of ups and downs in her life and taught us some basic values that have evolved very well for me.”
“To not give up, to try and look at challenges as opportunities - these may sound too common but when they become a part of one’s philosophy, it does wonders,” she concludes the talk on this note by sharing some take-aways.
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