Jaldi 5 with Aditya Sinha, former editor-in-chief, DNA: Coincidence that quitting timed with Zee News controversy

When Aditya Sinha announced his decision to quit DNA as editor-in-chief last week, the move surprised especially since he was rumoured to be getting along well with Zee group chief Subhash Chandra. On Saturday, he tweeted: To those who asked: I have resigned DNA to focus on writing novels. First book being reworked, second just started. For wishes, many thanks.”

 

When asked to reconfirm this, he told MxMIndia that he had submitted his resignation on December 6 and has moved on from immediate effect. “I have been hanging around, however, merely to drag out my goodbyes,” he said.

 

On when his first book is going to be published, he corrected us. “My first book, non-fiction, was published in late 1995. My first novel will be published once we find a publisher, so I cannot currently give you a date,” he said. Indeed: Death of Dreams: A Terrorist’s Tale was a book on a Kashmir youth’s ascent as the head of a terror outfit.  He also wrote a biography of Dr Farooq Abdullah in 1996 and as he mentioned in a column in the DNA, he has ghostwritten a 1994 book by Salman Khurshid.

 

When asked on his replacement, Mr Sinha also informed us that: “Ravi Joshi, the recently appointed Mumbai RE, suddenly finds himself incharge. Bhaskar Das may find an alternative if he can convince someone from his old place of employment to join.”

 

It may be remembered that DNA has seen a rehaul of its A-team in the recent past, and Mr Sinha’s exit completes that. CEO K U Rao moved out last month to join parent Zee group as CEO of WWIL (SitiCable). In September, it hired Sorbojeet Chatterjee, as Vice-President – Marketing from Neo Sports (and marketing head at the TV Today network prior to that). Earlier, it appointed Varun Kohli, chief monetizing officer with Mogae Media, to head revenue (as Executive VP – Sales).

 

Since there has been much speculation about Mr Sinha’s reasons for quitting, given that it comes in the wake of the controversies around the arrest of two senior Zee News executives and his strong defence in his column last week, we asked him a few questions. While he denies the coincidence theory, do read the between the lines to figure what could be the real reason:

 

01. Your resignation happens at a time when the Zee group is embroiled in a controversy, with the chairman Subhash Chandra also subjected to questioning and the pressure on the arrested editors to name him. Coincidence?

 

Coincidence.

a. Couldn’t you have pushed your decision to some other time?

It could have been done at some other time, but why should I follow other people’s timelines?

b. Your decision to move is also untimely because DNA’s CEO has moved to Zee and the new regime under Dr Bhaskar Das is just about settling in. Couldn’t you have stayed on more?

Please see answer to 1a.

 

02. You’ve been very candid in your columns. Last week saw you defend Zee and present the group’s standpoint? Could your resignation also be construed as that you are against carrying pro-Zee reports, or should one say: compelled to carry?

I have never been compelled to carry reports. If a family member is accused of something, it is natural for a person to speak of their point of view, not to condemn them. I believe in what I write, and no one has ever forced me to hew to a particular line.

 

a. Just to clear the air on the Zee-Jindal controversy. Since you would know the real story, and since one knows that you will not fudge things:

- Are the Zee editors really innocent?

- Was there no quid pro quo?

Innocence or guilt, I do believe, are established by courts of law. And whatever the Zee News Editors may be, it is laughable to think that my resignation is a quid pro quo for them.

 

03. Your highs and lows as Editor-in-Chief of DNA? Something that you would’ve not liked to see happening if you had to relive your tenure.

My two-plus years as an Editor-in-Chief  have been great. Each day was a learning experience. The greatest satisfaction was when colleagues did work that was notable, which was often. Of course, it is a stress-filled job and each morning begins with some irritation or other. The only lows were realizing that people working in the company did not even read your newspaper! It shows you that most non-journalists in the media industry have zero passion for their jobs.

 

04. We’ve heard that the paper is going through a redesign? And the edit page may be back?

The paper is going through a slight redesign because Bhaskar Das wants to change the look-and-feel of the paper to a template that is familiar to us all. He is keen on an edit page, so I guess my departure strengthens his hands in some ways.

 

05. What next after your books? Writing isn’t really a financially rewarding vocation. Are you going to continue to stay on in Mumbai?

I honestly don’t know what the future holds. If I could, I would write books for the rest of my existence. Mumbai is an expensive place to live, but I do like living here.

 

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