THE CITIZEN BUREAU | 3 SEPTEMBER, 2014
Shekhar Gupta Out of India Today, Purie in Charge Again
Shekhar Gupta (left) and Aroon Purie (right) in happier days
NEW DELHI: The ‘welcome back Shekhar’ did not last two months with former editor-in-chief of the Indian Express Shekhar Gupta leaving the Indian Today Group that he had joined with considerable enthusiasm as the vice chairman and editor-in-chief to take charge of its news content.
Chairman of the India Today Group, Aroon Purie has now issued a ‘goodbye’ internal note to the India Today group staffers basically stating that Gupta was being moved out of the top editorial post to that of ‘editorial advisor’. And Purie who had vacated the editor-in-chief position would now step back into the post. Purie said that Gupta will pursue his “creative and entrepreneurial interests” whatever that means while the latter reportedly tweeted assent, maintaining that Aroon Purie was speaking for both of them.
The journalist grapevine that usually is not too far away from the truth suggests that differences arose over stories with a Gupta favourite transgressing the line with a report that did not measure up in Purie’s assessment to journalistic standards. Several reporters had left Indian Express to join Gupta in India Today and are today all worried about their jobs.
Purie has been experimenting with new editors for a while to revive his flagship, the India Today magazine that is losing circulation by the day. He brought in veteran editor MK Akbar who also did not last in this job and left to eventually join the Bharatiya Janata Party as its spokesperson.
After a search for an editor to restore the political content and quality of reportage, Purie turned to old colleague Shekhar Gupta who had worked for 12 years in India Today earlier. Gupta at the time, again according to the incorrigible grapevine, had developed differences with Express owners, the Goenkas who wanted to regain full control over the publication. Gupta and Purie got together with the latter saying that he looked “forward to him bringing an entire ecosystem of excellence on editorial as well as corporate platforms.”
Increased levels of competition, high pay scales, and overarching ambition of both top editors and the business owners is clearly creating tensions that are not being resolved easily. Gupta is in the market again, as is television anchor Rajdeep Sardesai who was eased out of CNN-IBN after the Ambani take over.
NDTV has only recently denied reports of negotiations with Gujarat business group, Adani’s for a take over with reports suggesting that both were unable to come to an agreement over a basic figure. However, reports that NDTV is still in the market refuse to subside with different corporate houses figuring in the media gossip circuit as possible buyers.