Ranjona Banerji: Spotlight on staff welfare in media

06 Sep,2013

By Ranjona Banerji

 

There was a report in the papers last week about how the Government of Maharashtra had paid Jaslok Hospital Rs 1.85 lakh towards the treatment of the young woman who has gang-raped at Shakti Mills compound. I put out a tweet asking why the organisation she worked for did not contribute. Part of my cynicism, I must admit, comes from my observation and knowledge about how callous media organisations often are about the welfare of their staff.

 

I received messages from the organisation asking if they could put their point of view forward. I had a very long chat with a senior person who explained their situation. Upfront, their problem is that they can do very little in the public domain for fear of giving away the victim’s identity or jeopardising the case in any way at all. This is a legitimate and understandable concern. It is of paramount importance that the case against the accused rapists is watertight.

 

The organisation where the photojournalist was interning says that it was prepared to foot the bill for her treatment but once the government stepped in with its offer they decided to back off. However, they say that they have been with the victim and her colleague every step of the way since the office was informed of the incident. And all further help of various sorts that is required will be given to both. This is both heartening and welcome.

 

As I told the person I spoke to, if even half of what they were telling me they plan to do is true, it is more than most media organisations are bothered with. Staff safety, security and support are not codified and can be ad hoc at best, depending on individual bosses. As media organisations have become more corporatised, personal relations have gone for a toss. HR departments may have more people and more jargon but they are often without both sense and heart. At least in the earlier days when you had some clerk-run personnel department, proximity to the owner was not remote. But it was largely hit and miss. For instance, it took years for many newspapers and magazines to even provide home drops after night shifts.
There is plenty of scope for discussions on checks and balances for safety on the job, taking concerns of journalists and organisations into consideration. All too often any practical solutions get lost in moral grandstanding on one side and obdurate management theories on the other. Perhaps there is a slim chance we can overcome this.

 

**

 

The Times of India has done an expose on the amount of fuel spent by government cars – by both ministers and bureaucrats – and came to the shocking figure of a Rs 3000 crore bill in Delhi alone. In Thursday’s paper, the Rs 3000 figure was on the front page and mentioned in the intro to the report.

 

In Friday’s paper, a small correction tucked away at the bottom of page 15 tells readers that the paper got its arithmetic wrong and the figure is actually Rs 30 crore. The mistake was spotted by a “colleague”. However it was evidently too late to inform the edit page by then which is why the second edit on Friday’s edit page refers to the Rs 3,000 crore expenditure.
I don’t know about you but I am sorely disappointed in this drop…

 

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One response to “Ranjona Banerji: Spotlight on staff welfare in media”

  1. Guest says:

    It is good that the state government picked up the tab for medical care. Keeping citizens safe is its basic duty and most sacred function. The media organisation should enfold the brave young woman in a protective shell and help her to regain her composure and self confidence.