Patna: The closure of The Telegraph’s Bihar edition has come down as a shocker for its reader base and the recipients of Indian democracy. In recent times when sections of both the print and electronic media have co-opted themselves with the government, only a few have played a very honest role in maintaining the dignity of journalism.
The English daily has played a convincing role as adversary to power. Its last Bihar edition was of 14th December.
In 2010, the ABP Group extended its print publication reaching out to Bihar by starting a Patna bureau. The Telegraph had a bureau located on the Fraser Road near Akashvani. With a limited reader base, it was known for its quality anti-establishment stance. The sensitive issues pertaining to the state was always a priority for the correspondents.
In conversation with Newsd, Dipak Mishra, the bureau chief of The Telegraph said, “Unfortunately the Patna and Bhuvneshwar edition have closed down. The management informed us that it was economically not viable. This was a recent trend as well. The Hindu and Hindustan Times have retrenched their staffs in recent past. It is a very difficult time for all the staff who worked for the Patna bureau.”
The Layoff Streak: The Patna bureau had nearly 25 members with nine reporters and district based correspondents. Last year, the ABP group undertook mass lay off. Parallel to this, Guwahati edition of The Telegraph laid off. In Jharkhand, two reporters from Jamshedpur, Ranchi were asked to leave formally.
Since last year there were a series of instances when the ABP group was seen retrenching the staff members. In February 2017, close to 300 employees of the group were discharged from their services. The possible reason behind this step of the management was demonetization. The ABP group, the publisher of the Telegraph and Ananda Bazar Patrika at first it had reduced pages of its publication and intimated the departmental heads to resign.
On the other hand, the group started making provision for voluntary retirement of its employees under the Wage board. The group brought down the retirement age of employees to 58 from 60 years, letting go of 45 people in the process.
Shock across society: This decision of closure of The Telegraph’s Patna edition did send shocking waves in one section of a political class. RJD spokesperson, Prof. Manoj Jha expressed concern over the shutdown of Bihar’s English daily.
Gayatri Sinha, a retired District Education Officer based in Patna, a reader of The Telegraph raised her concern over unavailability of one of the most qualitative and reliable newspaper of the state saying, “A mirror of our society will no more reflect our actions.”
In contemporary times, media has witnessed a systematic shift from ground reporting to newsroom analysis. In era of Fake news and propaganda making environment, be it for economic crisis within the ABP group, absence of The Telegraph’s Bihar edition is no less than devaluation of our democracy.