India: IJU concerns over media downsizing, closure29 May, 2020
The Indian Journalists Union has expressed serious concern over the rise in downsizing or shutting down of newspapers during COVID-19 and journalists being laid off. The latest in the series is English daily Sakal Times, based in Pune, Maharashtra and its sister publication in Goa, Gomantak Times which will close down from month-end. This would impact over 50 employees, including journalists on the field and desk, feature writers and designers, other than their marketing and technical staff.
According to reports, the Sakal Media Group CEO Uday Jadhav has announced “financial losses” as the reason for the management to shut down operations of Sakal Times and that 31 May would be the last day for employees with the paper. The management has offered only one month salary i.e. of June as compensation to the employees, as against three months demanded, besides paying earlier deductions in salaries and asking them to resign immediately.
Earlier, the Hindustan Times Group is said to have laid off 130-odd staffers, including journalists and employees in Sales and Marketing, by asking them to resign, from various editions across the country. Reports say that other than asking many of its employees to take drastic salary cuts, the Hindustan Times is contemplating closing down some editions, and has already pruned its edition in Chandigarh by sacking five reporters, 2 from Ludhiana, 10 from the desk, a photojournalist based in Jammu and entire Punjabi digital HT team.
In a statement, the IJU President Geetartha Pathak and Secretary General Sabina Inderjit said the closing down of editions and subsequent loss of jobs for journalists during these unprecedented times was not only unethical and unfair but would have a major impact on India’s independent media and in effect its democracy, if the range of news and opinions gets limited. The IJU urged media houses to refrain from taking such drastic steps as well as reiterated its demand to the government to provide a stimulus package to the media industry.