It’s been almost two years since the series of layoffs across newsrooms began. In January 2017, Hindustan Times shut down four of its bureaux, followed by layoffs of hundreds of employees at The Telegraph, NDTV, DB Post, among others. Less than two months into 2019, Buzzfeed and Vice have already announced layoffs. It is fair to say these years have been tough for media professionals.
On February 6, the Zee group-owned Daily News Analysis also announced the closure of its Delhi edition. This will affect at least 15 people. This, however, wouldn’t impact the editorial team, an internal message stated.
The message that came late in the afternoon stated: “The management has decided to close Delhi DNA edition with immediate effect. There is no need to panic. Nobody in editorial is losing job. We are now converted into bureau. Management wants to concentrate on main Mumbai edition and get back its lost glory. We will absorb city colleagues into Bureau as much as we can. Take care and continue to work. We are still within 5 leading English language dailies in country. No need to panic.”
The 15 members being laid off are part of the circulation and marketing team. The terms of their layoffs are yet to be decided. While the internal message speaks of absorption of city colleagues, the question of their beat remains. How will reporters covering municipality, local police and crime be absorbed in the bureau?
Speaking to Newslaundry on conditions of anonymity, DNA employees confirmed the news of the closure. “It was all very sudden. There was no previous indication of the paper’s closure,” one employee said. The employee claimed that reason for the paper’s closure is financial losses. “We are going to go back to being Mumbai-centric,” the employee said.
We were also told that the paper’s losses stem from an absence of advertisements from the Aam Aadmi Party-led Delhi government. With newspapers depending on government revenue to bridge the gap between cost and revenue, an absence of advertisements from the state government for a city daily can be a challenge.
A former employee told Newslaundry that the paper’s print order came down to 5,000 from its original print order of 25,000. Newslaundry wasn’t able to verify this independently.
DNA, the English-language broadsheet, is owned by Diligent Media Corporation Limited, an Essel (Subhash Chandra) Group company. It was launched in October 2016 as a 32 pager. The paper was pegged at Rs 10 when it was launched—costlier than most Delhi newspapers. As of now, the paper is a 12-pager and costs Rs 5.
Sources also said that efforts are being made to consolidate teams across the group. Meaning, a beat reporter for the paper could now be reporting for the group’s other mediums as well.
The news about the paper’s closure comes days after Zee’s stocks tumbled by at least 19 per cent. On January 24, The Wire had reported that Zee’s controlling shareholder Essel Group’s name had emerged in a probe linked to large deposits made after demonetisation. Recently, editor-in-chief K Yatish Rajawat had also put in his papers.
Newslaundry reached out to Managing Editor Deepak Lokhande and Chief of Bureau Iftikhar Gilani for comments. This story will be updated if and when they respond.
On February 6, Deccan Chronicle Holdings also announced its decision to shut down the print edition of Financial Chronicle across five cities, New Delhi, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Bengaluru and Chennai.