The Indian Journalists Union (IJU) has expressed serious concern over the rise in downsizing or shutting down of newspapers during COVID-19 pandemic and journalists being laid off.
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, said a release. This will further affect its democracy if the range of news and opinions gets limited, it stated.
The IJU urged media houses to refrain from taking such drastic steps and reiterated its demand to the government to provide a stimulus package to the media industry, it added.
The latest among the media houses being closed down are the English daily Sakal Times and Gomantak Times, it said.
The Sakal Times is based in Pune, Maharashtra and its sister publication Gomantak Times is based in Goa. The media house will be closed down from month-end, IJU stated. This would impact over 50 employees, including journalists on the field and desk, feature writers and designers, other than their marketing and technical staff, it added.
The release further said that the Sakal Media Group CEO Uday Jadhav has announced ‘financial losses’ as the reason for the management to shut down operations of Sakal Times.
Further, May 31 will 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, it said. The media house has deducted their salaries and asked them to resign immediately, it added.
Earlier, the Hindustan Times Group is said to have laid off 130-odd staffs, including journalists and employees in Sales and Marketing, it said. They were asked 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, it stated. The house has already pruned its edition in Chandigarh by sacking five reporters, two from Ludhiana, 10 from the desk, a photojournalist based in Jammu and entire Punjabi digital HT team, it added.
IJU had earlier expressed concern over the downsizing of the Guwahati edition of the Telegraph published by ABP group and Sadin an Assamese weekly published by Pratidin group. The Telegraph published by the ABP Group, which enjoyed the fifth highest in readership in the country, has asked all its reporters from the region, except one, to submit their resignations by May 31, it said.
Another popular Assamese weekly ‘Sadin’ published from Pratidin group laid off 13 employees offering a parting compensation of an additional month’s salary, it added.