Alarming closures and layoffs in Indian media20 Feb, 2017
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and the National Union of Journalists (India) express serious concern over the trend of the closure of several print editions by major newspapers and retrenching journalists and media staff in an arbitrary manner in India.
In January 2017, the Hindustan Times announced closure of its four regional editions and three bureaus, sacking more than 100 journalists and media staff. Kolkata, Indore, Bhopal and Ranchi editions were closed down from January 9 while the newspaper shut down its bureaus in Allahabad, Varanasi and Kanpur, all in Uttar Pradesh. The decision was taken reportedly to move ahead with massive investments in the digitisation program.
The Hindustan Times also closed its Business Bureau terminating around 40 journalists and media staff to syndicate business news to the publication’s business paper Mint.
In February 2017, Ananda Bazar Patrika (ABP) Group terminated the services of more than 120 journalists from Bengali daily Ananda Bazar Patrika and English daily The Telegraph. The journalists were served notices of termination with paltry compensation across bureaus in West Bengal, Bihar, Jharkhand and New Delhi.
The journalist community has protested the mass layoff decisions in India. On February 13, more than 150 journalists and media staff organised a campaign to ‘Fight Undeclared Emergency in Media’ by holding an hour-long spirited demonstration before the Hindustan Times office in Mumbai. In a statement, the journalists said: “Scores of newspaper employees have been pushed into an abyss of unemployment and poverty overnight that has unleashed a terrifying environment of fear in the media industry. The current situation is unprecedented in the history of independent India.”
The IFJ said: “The mass layoff of journalists and media staff in two major media houses in India – namely the Hindustan Times and the ABP Group – without proper consultation, information and gratitude to the journalists is unacceptable. The IFJ believes that such extreme action should only be taken if it is crucial to the stability of the media house itself, not in an arbitrary manner to invest in some other projects or restructuring of the media house.”