COVID-19 Fallout: Newspaper Industry Feels The Heat With Sackings, Pay Cuts

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OB Bureau

Bhubaneswar: Coronavirus has been ominous for the newspaper industry. Ironically, newspapers, one of the most reliable sources of information in these days of fake news, were among the first to be hit when social distancing became a household term. Come the lockdown and residents’ welfare associations prohibited vendors from entering their colonies to distribute newspapers.

Ironically again, news publications that have been reporting and analysing layoffs, retrenchments and downsizing are feeling the heat themselves  leaving journalists in shock. Here’s a lowdown on what’s happening:

  • Digital news website The Quint has asked about 45 employees to go on an indefinite leave without pay. They include reporters, copy editors, a bureau chief, production staff, and the entire technology team, Newslaundry reported.

Making note of the “double whammy” of the pandemic and the economic crisis, it said the website’s revenues “will be under severe strain over the next 3-4 months, at least”.

According to the sacked employees, The Quint discontinued its subscription to news agencies like the Press Trust of India, Indo-Asian News Service, and Asian News International last week.

  • Times Life, a Sunday supplement produced by the Times of India, has asked at least three of its employees to leave. Two editors and a designer were verbally informed of their sacking and told to expect official communication from the HR department on April 14. The Life team had six editorial staffers and two designers.

“We were told that the production of one-pager Life will now be done by Delhi Times and so they don’t need so many people. The HR head will be calling tomorrow and giving us an official notice period of a month. ‘That’s it, game over,’ these were the exact words from my editor,” the sacked staffer told Newslaundry.

  • The Indian Express has asked its employees to take a “temporary salary cut”. An internal email to employees on April 1, proposed salary cuts for employees: 0 percent for those earning below Rs 5 lakh per annum; 10 percent for those between Rs 5 and 7.5 lakh; 15 percent for Rs 7.5 lakh to Rs 10 lakh range; 20 percent for Rs 10 lakh to Rs 20 lakh range; 25 percent for Rs 20 lakh to Rs 25 lakh range; and 30 percent for those earning above Rs 35 lakh per annum.

Chief editor Rajkamal Jha, chairman Anant Goenka, and director Vaidehi Thakkar have reportedly taken 100 percent salary cuts. 

  • At Pune-based Sakal Times, 15 staffers have been  given the pink slip.
  • Republic TV’s Arnab Goswami has reportedly requested his advertisers to stay by his side.
  • On April 10, News Nation Network laid off its entire English digital team of 15 without any notice of termination or allowed to serve their notice period, said sacked staffers.

Now, the big question is, will Indian newspapers survive the coronavirus fallout?



OB Bureau

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