Indian dailies resort to massive layoffs and pay cuts

Covid-19 takes a toll on print media journalists

543
newspaper industry
Big newspapers go for job cuts

The newspaper industry is one of the worst affected owing to the economic slowdown induced by the national lockdown announced on 25 March. Some of the biggest newspaper publishers have scaled back operations and shut numerous editions. There have also been large scale job losses and pay cuts.

According to the recent report by Adfactors, Hindustan Times has recently asked 150 employees or around 27% of the total staff, to resign. Managing editor Soumya Bhagacharya, other senior editors such as Poonam Saxena, Manjula Narayan, Rezaul Laskar, Padma Rao, and senior assistant editor, Ananya Ghosh were asked to resign. Hindustan, the HT Media group’s national Hindi daily, has laid off more than 180 employees. The group’s financial daily Mint has discontinued its 8-year-long association with columnist Sundeep Khanna, who covered business and economy, HT Education, and previously was the executive editor with MintRajasthan Patrika plans to lay off approximately 500 employees.

The Times of India in Kerala on 20 May 2020 laid-off seven reporters — three in Thiruvananthapuram, two in Kozhikode and one each in Malappuram and Kannur — and three desk editors. ABP Digital laid-off an unconfirmed number of journalists on 26 May 2020. The Economic Times cut jobs in Kochi, Chandigarh, and Kolkata. Three journalists managing Times Life, a Sunday supplement, were laid off on 13 April.

Vikatan Group laid off 172 employees in Chennai on 21 May. It is unclear how many journalists are affected by this step, Adfactor report said.

Pudhari, Pune, and Alpa Mahanagar, Mumbai, have announced layoffs while the Sakal Group asked 15 journalists to tender their resignation on 31 March. Another major regional newspaper Eenadu has laid off close to 1,000 employees from various departments, including journalists, graphic designers, and sales and marketing professionals.

Venerable English daily The Hindu based in Chennai has laid off an unknown number of journalists across editions, bureaus, and verticals. So far, about nine journalists in Karnataka and 20 in Mumbai have been laid off. On 22 June, The Hindu formally asked its employees in the Mumbai edition to tender their resignations. The move came the same day the Press Council of India issued a notice to the editor of The Hindu for threatening to lay off journalists. This was a day after the employees of the Mumbai edition wrote to the company’s board seeking clarification on their employment status, according to Adfactor.

Salary-cuts, leave and work without pay

In addition to massive-scale layoffs, newspaper companies have gone in for salary cuts, leave and work without pay.

Fortune India sent its 20 people strong editorial teams on a three-month leave without pay on 28 April. The decision was communicated in an internal eMail, Adfactor said. The Indian Express has asked its employees to take a temporary salary cut after the nationwide lockdown affected the paper’s circulation and sales.

Bennett Coleman & Co, which owns Times of India, Economic Times, Mirror, Nav Bharat Times, Maharashtra Times, Vijay Karnataka, and several other dailies, announced deferring of increments, restructuring of salary and salary cuts on 23 April. The Hindu is reported to have restructured its team in Mumbai by reducing the headcount after salary cuts up to 25% in May. The Hindu had earlier stopped printing in Mumbai during the lockdown, resuming only on 15 June.

Marathi dailies, Sakal, and Lokmat based in Pune have also announced pay-cuts while Tribune India has gone in for pay cuts on 2 May via an internal circular. Dainik Bhaskar restructured the salaries of nearly 1,000 employees (12% of the workforce), as reported by Reuters on 16 April 2020, while Patrika cut salaries on 7 April.

 

The Covid-19 pandemic led to the country-wide lockdown on 25 March 2020. It will be two years tomorrow as I write this. What have we learned in this time? Maybe the meaning of resilience since small companies like us have had to rely on our resources and the forbearance of our employees as we have struggled to produce our trade platforms.

The print and packaging industries have been fortunate, although the commercial printing industry is still to recover. We have learned more about the digital transformation that affects commercial printing and packaging. Ultimately digital will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future.

Web analytics show that we now have readership in North America and Europe amongst the 90 countries where our five platforms reach. Our traffic which more than doubled in 2020, has at times gone up by another 50% in 2021. And advertising which had fallen to pieces in 2020 and 2021, has started its return since January 2022.

As the economy approaches real growth with unevenness and shortages a given, we are looking forward to the PrintPack India exhibition in Greater Noida. We are again appointed to produce the Show Daily on all five days of the show from 26 to 30 May 2022.

It is the right time to support our high-impact reporting and authoritative and technical information with some of the best correspondents in the industry. Readers can power Indian Printer and Publisher’s balanced industry journalism and help sustain us by subscribing.

– Naresh Khanna

Subscribe Now

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here