At least 40 editorial staffers have lost their jobs at the Mumbai Mirror since the Times Group that it is relaunching the daily as a weekly, according to a top source at the Times Group. This constitutes more than 60 percent of the editorial team at the former daily, which had at least 65 staffers in total.
The remaining employees have been absorbed into various properties of the media group, including the Times of India and Times Internet Limited, the digital arm of the Times Group.
For now, the weekly avatar of Mumbai Mirror is run from the offices of the Bangalore Mirror in Bengaluru, headed by editor Ravi Joshi.
Newslaundry learnt that Pune Mirror, which employs about 40 staffers, has not laid off any employees, as a search for investors into the daily is underway.
The Times Group’s announcement in December 2019 cited dipping revenues and the import duty on newsprint as the reason it had decided to “cease publication of Mirror in Pune and relaunch Mumbai Mirror as a weekly”.
A statement released by the group had said: “Following months of discussions and deliberations, we have made this extremely difficult and painful decision to recalibrate our portfolio of publications.”
Newslaundry had that the nosediving revenues at the paper were caused by low advertising rates and crippled circulation after the lockdown.
A former staffer who recently quit Mumbai Mirror told Newslaundry that employees were asked to serve the notice period mentioned in their contracts and given one month’s basic salary without any real severance pay.
“The company line is not that Mirror has shut down, but that it has transformed into a weekly,” said the former staffer. “There are reasons why employees have not pursued legal recourse: it forecloses future prospects with TOI's verticals, and the group’s defence would be that a severance package can be enforced only if the paper shut down.”
In its December statement, the Times Group had claimed that Mirror will “continue to have a strong digital presence”. A source familiar with developments saidthat at least six staffers from Mumbai Mirror have been retained to work for digital verticals like the subscription-driven TOI Plus, where the former daily’s columnists continue to hold their space. The group, the source added, is mulling plans to launch another digital news vertical under TOI Plus.
The daily Pune Mirror, meanwhile, is still in circulation. An employee at the paper said that there had been no job losses so far and the management is searching for investment into the paper.
“The situation is a little embarrassing,” the employee said. “There has not been any communication since the statement about the shutdown in December. The management has simply told us to continue our work as before.”
The Times Group is one of the most profitable business conglomerates in India and a trendsetter in the Indian media. Shortly after the coronavirus-induced lockdown in the summer of 2020, it had deferred increments, cut pay, and to dozens of staffers.
Newslaundry reached out to Ranjeet Kate, chief executive officer of MMCL, the Times Group that runs the Mirror papers, for comment. This piece will be updated if we receive a response.