Ranjona Banerji: Sensitivity in dealing with closure is not in their DNA

22 Aug,2014

By Ranjona Banerji

 

It is very sad to hear about the closing of DNA’s Pune edition. From all accounts, this was done the way most media managements go about it: as insensitively as possible. That is, employees had no clue, got no notice period and were given either nothing or a very insufficient severance package.

 

One more newspaper or journal or edition or TV channel or bureau gone and one more set of media professionals jobless. In the case of DNA Pune there must have been additional shock because the newspaper had apparently run an ad campaign the month before targeting both Sakal and The Times of India.

 

DNA is apparently still distributed in Pune but with Mumbai-based stories.

 

And yet, little that happens in DNA was not foreseen when it was launched in 2005. I worked with the newspaper from 2006 to 2010. It was still run by the Agarwals of Dainik Bhaskar then with Subhash Chandra of Zee as a partner. The rush to open new editions was almost frightening. Huge investments were made even before the Mumbai edition had time to establish itself. And yet it was the Mumbai edition’s initial success that created all that ambition.

 

By the end of 2010 however, the flagship edition started slipping and soon lost out completely to Hindustan Times (launched just before DNA) which had until then been kept at number 3 behind TOI at 1 and DNA at 2. I am not including Mumbai Mirror in this, although it was also launched around then, since it is distributed free with the Times of India.

 

DNA as an organisation under the Agarwals worked with some measure of professionalism. It was far from perfect but it was a darn sight better than what it became. However, even then it was evident that ambition far over-reached ability or even possibilities.

 

With the management and ownership switch to Zee, multiple changes in senior editorial staff and in profile, DNA ceased to be a contender. It is always distressing to see an idea you once worked for suffer and DNA with all its shortcomings had plenty of potential.

 

Even worse, once more you see a media organisation getting away with sacking staff at short notice with no severance package and no fight from senior staff. Perhaps it is time to initiate a discussion on trying to get some sort of security for journalists in such circumstances. I balk at the idea of a union but we need to have some solidarity. The tragedy seems to be that many editors simply do not care. As long as they are safe, the rest can go hang. As one editor mentioned to me in conversation, the same people who wept about the plight of Kingfisher employees are absolutely silent about people at DNA.

 

Rumours going around suggest that DNA is planning to launch its Delhi edition, a dream which Chandra of Zee has talked about ever since he took over the paper. If true, the employees of DNA Pune will know that it was not financial instability but expediency which cost them their livelihood.

 

**

 

The gangrape of a young journalist at the Shakti Mills compound in Mumbai shook the city. This terrible account of what happened after the event, by a senior colleague, lays bare the horror of dealing with the media when you are on the other side.

https://in.news.yahoo.com/that-hashtag-was-my-colleague-060844991.html

 

**

 

Fareed Zakaria has been accused of plagiarism again. But the examples given this time are less convincing. Looks like he has used figures and numbers which others have used. That is hardly a crime.

http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/fareed-zakaria-plagiarism-blippoblappo-crushingbort

 

Ranjona Banerji is a senior editor and columnist based in Dehradun. She is Consulting Editor, MxMIndia. The views expressed here are her own

 

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