Why was HT's editor-in-chief asked to leave abruptly?
Fuelling the many theories behind the sudden exit of Hindustan Times' editor-in-chief Bobby Ghosh, comes another, this time by the independent news website The Wire. According to it, Shobhana Bhartia, HT Media Private Limited's owner, met PM Narendra Modi days before she abruptly announced Ghosh's exit. Did Ghosh not resign then? Did Bhartia act under government pressure? Read on to know all about it.
Ghosh joined as HT's editor-in-chief in May'16. An American citizen, he has previously worked with Quartz and TIME magazine. During his 16-month stint, he is widely credited for successfully spearheading the 90-year-old newspaper's transition into the digital space. He's to leave HT on October 31.
Nripendra Misra, the PM's principal secretary, has confirmed that Bhartia and Modi met recently. He, however, maintained that the discussion between the two was confined only to HT's forthcoming leadership summit. He "denied" all the "other related assumptions and insinuations" and dismissed them as "baseless". In his response to The Wire, he also said the government was committed to the freedom of the press.
It is alleged that the government was unhappy with Ghosh's views on social media, and the fact that he wasn't an Indian citizen. They weren't too pleased with HT's political coverage and Ghosh's brainchild, the 'Hate Tracker' either. Launched two months ago, it aimed to be a crowd-sourced database of hate crimes in India since September 2015. Now with Ghosh's exit, it lies abandoned.
Days before the meeting, Bhartia is said to have faced sustained pressure from senior ministers. When HT's senior editorial staff questioned her on Ghosh's abrupt exit, she reportedly said: "What does one do if the [highest levels of government] make this an issue?" Bhartia announced Ghosh's going away on September 11, citing his "personal reasons." Ghosh, however, hasn't commented on the issue yet.
Sukumar Ranganathan, the editor of business newspaper Mint - HT's sister concern - will join Hindustan Times on October 23 as its editor-in-chief. Ranganathan had joined HT Media in 2006. He termed his appointment as a "recognition of the work of everyone at Mint."