M.K. Venu quit as The Hindu‘s Executive Editor today. Sources said his departure was inevitable after Siddharth Varadarajan quit as Editor-in-Chief yesterday. Venu joined The Hindu in June.
Now, many that Varadarajan recruited are anxious about their jobs. Most of these reporters joined The Hindu at salaries substantially higher than what the old timers get paid at the newspaper. Sources said Praveen Swami who quit after disagreements with Varadarajan may also return to The Hindu.
A veteran former correspondent at The Hindu said disparity in salaries between seniors and juniors has traditionally been marginal at the media organisation. But the last couple of years changed that. Reporters from outside were recruited at “steep salaries” while those who have persisted with the organisation for years continued to get much lower salaries. Colleagues remember how some of these seniors at the nespaper would be in tears at the ‘unfair’ treatment meted out to them by the new dispensation both in terms of emoluments as also assignments.
The new team nearly destroyed the ‘beat’ system, alleges another old timer. “The new favourites would poach into all beats with little accountability to any one beat,” says the old timer complaining how many of them who gave their best years to the newspaper were made to feel utterly useless while the recruits from outside prospered.
“They had the license to do as they pleased,” says the old hand. An ace investigative reporter at the Delhi bureau would seldom make even the slightest effort to be seen at the office or attend any meetings. A young foreign correspondent would spend his time promoting his book in that continent rather than filing stories and wasn’t hauled up even when the Chennai desk complained.
Suffice to say that knives are out in The Hindu‘s Delhi and Chennai bureaus. Some more resignations may be in the offing.
Insiders also dismissed speculation that coverage relating to Narendra Modi led to Varadarajan’s ouster. They said Varadarajan was asked to leave because of the internal dynamics of the organisation, including the family standing up to protect the interests of employees.