The Dossier
Unemployment by Indian media houses evident of unprofessionalism

Unseemly Unemployment Exposes Indian Media for its Vulnerability

Even as India initiates the gradual lift of a massive country-wide lockdown which was announced back in March of this year, the  Covid-19 situation is worsening. As the day-to-day fluctuations in the current cases and the number of deaths are religiously projected, literally across all the media platforms, there have been verbal lay-offs and pay cuts further affecting the livelihood of the public. The unemployment rate is shooting through the roof, and despite being one of the busiest businesses currently, Indian media platforms are no exception to it. 

In the past few months, as many as 500 people, to state the least, have been asked to resign from their jobs, considering the Indian media business alone. In a story covered by NewsClick, it was revealed that ‘of the total number of journalists laid off, 18+ journalists were from The Times Group; 46 reporters, six cameramen, and 17 producers from India Today; 15 journalists from News Nation; 45 journalists from The Quint were asked to go on leave without pay; 100+ journalists from the Hindustan Times and Mint; 50+ journalists from Sakal Times; 13 journalists from Gomantak Times; 100+ journalist were asked to resign from The Hindu’ with the list continuing its way thereon.

NewsX, a news agency, was also exposed in this report for its unprofessional and distant manner in which it verbally laid off its employees. “It was a usual hectic start of their workday for the journalists at NewsX on June 1. However, soon after logging in through the company portal, but from home, they received a phone call from the HR demanding their resignation,” it said. 

It has been reported that the victims of this unemployment have not received salary since February, meaning, the company has evidently gone as far as violating Industrial Disputes Act, 1947, which explicitly states that the company is required to pay three-months worth salary under severance pay, regardless of what has been mentioned in their respective contracts and agreement. 

Also read: Domestic Workers in Critical Plight Due to Unemployment

India News, which is also an Indian media house managed by the network under which NewsX runs, was also approached through its HR representative Naresh Jaiswal, seeking a response or statement on the unemployment situation. However, no answer was returned. It was striking at first, but after a background check, it was discovered that the news agency was not new to this kind of unprofessional and violating method of verbal lay-offs or severe pay-cuts.

News Click further mentioned the findings by Sujata Madhok, a member of the Delhi Union of Journalists, which were that Indian Express was amongst the first Indian media houses to announce pay-cuts in April and then retrenchment as a consequent move in June. Four of their journalists, to state the least, were faced with verbal demand for resignation by Raj Kamal Jha, editor-in-chief and Unni Rajan Shanker, executive editor.

“Those laid off have been promised two months salary as severance. There has been no written communication yet to the affected journalists. Also, around 20 contractual employees of different departments including machine have lost their jobs,” she reported. 

Given the hike in this rate of unemployment, it immediately strikes as a question that is among the lay-offs and pay-cuts of the employees, were the owners of these renowned and established Indian media houses taking pay-cuts in their salaries as well. As it goes, On being asked whether the owners of the media organisations are taking pay cuts same as employees, Sujata Madhok said, “Unlikely that they will take pay cuts. There is no such transparency in ownership/leadership in the newspaper industry. So we don’t actually know. Actually around 50% of the running costs of newspapers are newsprint costs. During lockdown they are printing far fewer copies, so that is a net saving they don’t talk about.” 

According to Sujata Madhok pay-cuts is the initial step that these employers take, that hint towards an eventual lay-off. “The most crooked thing,” as she calls it, “is that they don’t call it retrenchment or issue official letters.”

A critique that Sandhya Ravishankar, a member of Network for the Protection of Journalists’ Rights in Tamil Nadu, further adds to this list of problematic procedures witnessed in the Indian media platforms is that “the fear of being blacklisted may be lesser in English news media agencies, but it’s not the same for regional ones.” She has often reported in the past as well, that the public is quick in making “a big fuss” while scrutinising The Hindu, “a smaller fuss” in case of Times of India, and “no fuss” in cases of the regional language media sources. 

As far as raising their voice, or standing up against the unjust unemployment that has been forced on them is concerned, she said, “Those who write in English may get the opportunity to freelance for international media, if blacklisted by Indian media but a regional journalist’s option is confined, with limited options at their disposal. And, since, the regional space is small and close-knit, raising their voice against the management could end a journalist’s career.” pay ps займ личный кабинетонлайн займ от 18 летмомент займ отзывы монеза взять займонлайн займ метрокредитмикро займ екапуста

Tanvi Kulkarni

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