The corporatisation of newsrooms puts the journalists under pressure and even the best in the profession feel like quitting at times, reveals the journos in Kerala as they responded to the suicide attempt of a woman journalist based in Thiruvanathapuram. The woman who stays with her husband in Thiruvanathapuram was reportedly serving her notice period and on the last day she left for home with a troubled mind.
The woman, who was working as a news producer with News 18 Kerala, tried to kill herself on Wednesday night after her talk with Rajeev Devaraj who heads the channel in Kerala failed. News 18 Kerala is a one-year-old Malayalam news channel owned by Reliance Industries’ Network 18. It is informed from sources that the woman was going through severe stress after she was forced to quit the job at News 18 Kerala following an appraisal review. Around 20 employees have lost job in the appraisal drive by the channel.
Colleagues and friends of the victim said that the woman was self-made and hardworking. Hailing from a Dalit as well as economically-backward family, she has reportedly overcome her circumstances to build up her career in journalism which is often a tough task not only for women but to all. Women journos in the State have taken the issue seriously and have voiced their concern regarding job security and fake appraisals. It is alleged that the team led by Rajeev Devaraj at News 18 Kerala adopts a hostile attitude to the employees, especially the women staff who they find not fit in their group.
It is reported that the woman had a rift with senior news reader Saneesh regarding a news clip she produced a month ago and following this she had lodged a complaint with her superior. The might the woman showed in handling herself and her profession might have been a reason for the senior officials in the organisation to turn their faces against her.
The woman who was admitted at Ananthapuri Hospital is still under observation and on Saturday noon suffered a stomach infection. Her health condition is under control, as informed by several of her friends.
News 18 Kerala which is quite new to the business in the State is notorious for its anti-employee stand. A former employee said that she quit the job following the consistent pressure from the HR Department to join work at a distant location, when she tried to re-join work in Thiruvanathapuram after her maternity leave.
The matter of removing 20 employees terming them ‘under-performed’ is seen with suspicion by the media fraternity. With a surge in the number of complaints regarding anti-women approaches adopted by the media houses, the media jobs seem to be a highly insecure area for passionate and dedicated professionals who keep away from internal groupism and lobbying.
The woman is said to have pointed fingers at senor staff Rajeev Devaraj, S. Lallu, T. N. Prakash and B. Dileep Kumar for allegedly conspiring and lobbying to terminate her career.
It is known from sources that the woman had neither received any show cause notice nor a chance to improve before she was forced to quit. The senior women journalists associated with Network of Women in Media (NWIM) visited the victim at the hospital and was informed that the woman was traumatised after she was forced to quit her job which was her passion.
Rajeev Devaraj, responding to the issue said the woman was performing low and she was consistently gaining poor appraisal marks. “She was on leave for two days and the HR had told her about the management’s decision when she re-joined. Since she did not understand it fully, I spoke with her quite a long time in my cabin,” he said to the NWIM members.
Meanwhile, the senior journalists in the State said that corporates in news producing business have often adopted unethical mass employee cut in earlier days too. Forced resignation of senior staff is a common practice in media houses, they opine.
The police have registered a case based on the woman’s statements. The statement of the victim was initially registered by Vanchiyoor police and the case was later handed over to Thumba police station as the incident took place in it’s capacity. It is informed that the Chief Minister as well as the Home Ministry has ordered a thorough probe as it is a case involving atrocities against women. Meanwhile the SC/ST Commission on its own has registered a case against Rajeev Devaraj, based on the victim’s statements.