By Bappaditya Paul
COME Monday, 09 January, India’s leading English daily, Hindustan Times, would discontinue its edition from Kolkata after a stint of about 16 years in the City of Joy.
Employees at the Kolkata office of the second most widely read English news daily in India received an e-mail from their Delhi headquarters on 04 January informing about management’s decision to stop publishing from the city.
This, the management wrote, was being done with the aim of investing into “Digital Future” which the company thinks would be more rewarding. Independent web portal Newslaundry reports that the company would also stop publishing the editions from Ranchi, Bhopal, and Indore from the same day.
The move comes about a year since the company started imparting training to its Kolkata editorial staff into producing and publishing news on digital platforms. For the past near two months or so, Hindustan Times Kolkata edition began to publish more news online and made reporters and copy editors to publicise the same on social media.
An editorial staff with the Kolkata edition said that ever since getting the e-mail, the 120-odd employees here were in utter anxiety, fearing that they might be sacked.
“We hear that the company would barely retain three to five reporters in Kolkata,” he said on conditions of anonymity. On Monday, an executive editor of the newspaper from Mumbai is scheduled to visit Kolkata to announce the downsizing and the next course of action.
The strength of the editorial team of Kolkata edition ~ including reporters and copy editors ~ is around 40. Some of them have already started approaching other English dailies published from the city for opportunities.
This is the first instance in India of any major newspaper stopping to publish print editions as the media world marches into a digital era where news is consumed more on the Internet.
Hindustan Times had started its edition from Kolkata in early 2000 and this was followed by a satellite edition from Siliguri the next year. The Siliguri edition, however, was discontinued within a year or so, but the Kolkata edition continued despite making losses year after year.
Until the announcement on 04 January, everyone associated with Hindustan Times in Kolkata used to believe that the company would never stop publishing from here as the city was once the base of the Birlas, who own the newspaper.
The unforeseen move probably also indicates at the dying ad revenue market in Bengal due to the absence of major industries in the state.