Bloodbath at the The Telegraph

BY THE HOOT| IN Media Business | 03/02/2017
Journalists shudder as one more newspaper group sacks employees across two newspapers, axing an estimated 120 plus jobs in a day.
THE HOOT reports as departments are denuded

 

Two months after the Kolkata-based ABP Group announced that there would be  around 40 per cent job cuts in its English daily The Telegraph and Bengali flagship Ananda Bazar Patrika, the axe has finally fallen. On Thursday between journalists and other members of the staff from The Telegraph clubbed with those from ABP,  over 120 were asked to resign.

Among the hardest hit in the bloodbath was The Telegraph’s features bureau. Senior members of the department were asked to go and nearly all state correspondents axed. The political bureau also saw several sackings — at least three in Delhi and many others in state capitals. The paper’s photo and web departments have been denuded as well. The sacked journalists include both wage board employees as well as those on contract.

Pages of both ABP and The Telegraph were reduced drastically from December last year. The Telegraph’s popular Sunday magazine Graphiti was also scrapped. 

However, ABP has been extremely generous in its severance package to journalists. While younger staff are being given a few months’ basic as compensation, those who have put in several years of service with the company are getting anything between 75 to 100 per cent of a year’s CTC. Journalists who have been with the company for 20 years or more are also going to be paid their basic salaries up to their retirement age.

The layoffs and extreme cost-cutting measures at ABP come in the wake of rumours that The Telegraph may be up for sale. Sanjiv Goenka, chairman of the RP Sanjiv Goenka Group, is one of the names being thrown around in Kolkata as a prospective buyer. In 2015 Business World, ABP’s business magazine, was sold as well.

The shocking spate of job cuts in ABP is the second big story of media retrenchment in recent months. HT Media also cut a 100 plus jobs early this year, shutting down editions of Hindustan Times in Kolkata, Ranchi, Bhopal, Indore, Varanasi, Kanpur and Allahabad. HT’s business bureaux in Mumbai and Delhi were also shut down and the work outsourced to the staff of its sister publication, Mint.

The pressure of dwindling ad revenues, especially in the aftermath of demonetisation, is being cited as the principal reason for job cuts in media houses. The Times of India is also said to have put in place a freeze on hiring — after complaining in a lengthy Op-ed about the way wage board revisions in the pay scale of journalists and others was eating into the viability of running media organisations. 

 

"However, the layoffs in ABP have a dimension other than a purely economic one."

 

However, the layoffs in ABP have a dimension other than a purely economic one. It is being seen as a culture shift in the Group after owner Aveek Sarkar stepped down as Chief Editor in June last year. His younger brother Arup Sarkar, who helms the group now, is regarded as a more practical owner who is keen to shed flab and make his publications more cost efficient. 

Insiders say that Aveek Sarkar has been entirely marginalised now and has no say whatsver in the running of the papers.

Meanwhile, journalists at ABP who survived the culling are keeping their fingers crossed. Not everyone believes that they have seen the last of the layoffs. Morale is at rock bottom and the future looks tense. 

 

The Hoot is the only not-for-profit initiative in India which does independent media monitoring. Your support is vital for this website. Click here to make a contribution.
Subscribe To The Newsletter

The Supreme Court today admitted a writ petition filed by Quint reporter Poonam Agarwal for a court-monitored investigation into the death of gunner Roy Mathew, to seek guidelines on the application of the Official Secrets Act (OSA) to bring it in line with the Constitution and prevent its misuse,  and to conduct an inquiry into the persistence of the 'sahayak' system in the army. The judges issued notice to the government. The Quint journalist  was charged with spying under the OSA and abetment to suicide under the IPC. Senior advocate Gopal Subramaniam and Adv Prashant Kumar appeared for the petitioner.          

Twitter-happy journalists of the Times Group have been served  a dampener by the organisation's  HR head. A circular says they may not use their personal social media handles to comment on news, politics, civic issues  or crime unless reported by the Group's official social media handles. Nor can they retweet their own stories unless the official Twitter handle has done so. Nor can they use their own Twitter handles to repost invective or opinions which may be against the laws of the land. Why? Because the personal opinions expressed are apparently hurting the "integrity and credibility" of the Times Network platforms.                 

View More
sub editors and page designers
Wednesday, April 19, 2017