‘The Telegraph’ set to Shut Down Guwahati Edition
GUWAHATI: The English daily, The Telegraph, is set to shut down its Guwahati edition. The newspaper 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.
Speaking to G Plus under condition of anonymity, an employee yesterday said, “I only got to know about this today evening and I’m unable to take the next course of action.” He added, “Speculations are doing the rounds among journalists that the entire Northeast Edition will be scrapped because of a cash crunch.”
Another journalist claimed that The Telegraph might be adopting the same strategy as The Hindu or The Times of India wherein, they will keep only one or two correspondents to cover the entire northeastern region, as the print edition already has subscriptions of news wires such as Press Trust of India (PTI) and Asian News International (ANI) among others.
The Telegraph has had editions like Kolkata, South Bengal, North Bengal, Northeast (Guwahati), Jharkhand (Jamshedpur and Ranchi), Patna and Bhubaneswar. It ceased its printing of the Bhubaneswar and Patna Editions on 14th December 2018. It is being speculated that the Guwahati Edition will meet a similar fate.
A senior journalist, giving a different dimension to the matter said, "The Majithia Wage Board was not implemented as Ananda Bazar Patrika (ABP) Group had filed a case against it and put in a stay order. Although the group later lost the case they did not implement the wage broad policy."
"As all the employees are on contract basis we are unable to take any legal action; in fact none of the national newspaper have permanent employees" he added.
Meanwhile the publication will continue to file and report stories until May 31, 2020 for the northeast region.
With the commencement of the lockdown, the print media around the country faced a double whammy - massive subscriber cut as also initial to prolonged refusal by hawkers to distribute newspapers. Myths and rumours had begun to circulate of the Sars-Cov-2 being transmitted through newspapers or packages. As such, many major newspapers were forced to stop their print editions preferring to make the same available in digital format that could be accessed by smartphones. The rumours were later disproved and it was apparent that the virus does not survive on porous surfaces.
National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) director, Dr Sujeet K Singh, had earlier said it is untrue that newspapers can be a source of the Sars-Cov-2 infection. “There is no evidence to suggest that. If it was happening, we would have said so to stop the infection. What we know about the virus, for sure right now, is that it spreads largely through droplets and fomites (infected surfaces), not newspapers,” Singh said.
But the printed newspaper industry had already taken the hit by then. In the meanwhile however, a series of job cuts were reported in major publication houses, some of which parted ways with senior journalists and reporters virtually overnight.
In Assam too, this trend caught on as popular Assamese weekly ‘Sadin’ laid off 13 employees offering a parting compensation of an additional month’s salary.
Apart from this other, online portals in Guwahati also axed several employees during the lockdown period as they were unable to generate revenue to cope up with the expenditure incurred in running the show.
With the increase in online audience, it is evident that newspapers have lost the loyalty of its readers by a large margin. The faster news dissemination on a digital device was one primary reason for this and other reasons also contributed to the situation:
> More than being quick digital media also notifies people on important story breaks from around the world.
> One can quickly get a grasp of the current situation with just one glance at one’s convenience.
> One can explore different angles to differentiate between the truth, the partial truth and downright fiction.
> Adding motion to words, numbers and graphs make it easier for one to understand; to top that one can revisit the item for further additions and reviews.
As the COVID-19 crisis continues to hammer the national economy, the future of print media remains uncertain.