It’s all happening at Mint, the business daily launched by the Hindustan Times barely two years ago.
Founder-editor Raju Narisetti left under a cloud of rumours at the turn of the year. And now, star-columnist Vir Sanghvi, a former editor of HT, has ended his column in Lounge, the Saturday magazine of Mint, with a piece on his website that hits out at the fledgling paper and its new editor, Sukumar Ranganathan.
“I will not write for a publication that censors its columnists and denies them the right to free speech while writing long, impassioned pieces about the freedom to criticize others from the Prime Minister downwards. All of us exhibit double standards to some degree. But Mint‘s hypocrisy takes my breath away.”
Sanghvi’s dispute with Mint apparently arose after Lounge did not carry his “Pursuits” column last week on business journalism in the aftermath of the Satyam fraud.
Reason: it took a swipe at Mint for the manner in which it covered the drama surrounding NewsX, a start-up TV channel that Sanghvi headed till he quit before its launch.
“I believe that the ability to carry criticism of yourself is the mark of a competent editor and a confident publication. Sadly, the new editor of Mint—after Raju’s departure—does not appear to share this view. He refused to carry the article,” writes Sanghvi, while showering praise on Priya Ramani, the editor of Lounge.
Sanghvi’s website also carries the original article which Lounge did not carry. It contains these paragraphs on Mint‘s coverage of the NewsX episode, which ironically appeared in Raju Narisetti’s tenure.
“Easily the worst was Mint—-ironic because I am a columnist—-which managed to get basic details wrong, running biased and inaccurate reports and then following them up with a series of wildly speculative (always attributed to “a source close to the situation”) stories which (long after I had left and other NewsX issues were being featured) nearly always demonstrated a total misunderstanding of the situation.
“As Mint is not a newspaper that carries much news and specializes in thoughtful, analytical reports, these lapses were surprising. One theory is that the paper likes running Stardust-type media-gossip stores which are either of no consequence (the Delhi Press Club elections ) or just wrong (Pradeep Guha to join Big TV), in the hope that people will talk about them. When NewsX was eventually sold, Mint which had identified the wrong suitors, failed again as Exchange4Media scooped the story.
“But at least it proves one thing. When journos get it wrong, we even get media stories wrong!”
Also read: How come media did not spot Satyam fraud?
Pseudonymous author spells finis to Mint editor?
I agree with Vir that a columnist must not be placed under any kind of censorship. Columnists are like oxygen cylinders for any newspaper. They have a following and they know their responsibility as well. By censorship, the publication is dishonouring them and none in the world like being dishonored with no fault of theirs.
I remember when I was in MIDDAY (Delhi edition) in 1986, (May onwards) we had almost ten columnists contributing for the tabloid and we reproduced their pieces word to word but for some typing errors. Usually all copies were almost perfect. When you give a column, trust is the next word you should keep in mind.