PRITAM SENGUPTA in New Delhi and PALINI R. SWAMY in Bangalore write: Vijaya Next, the weekly Kannada newspaper launched by The Times of India group for the “upwardly mobile Kannadiga population”, is said to be looking for a new editor, just three weeks after the paper hit the stands.
Sources at Times House on Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg claim the paper’s first editor, Deepak Thimaya, put in his papers days after the 24-page, all-colour paper was launched on May 28 and has been relieved. He is said to be serving his notice till the end of the month.
“Yes, we are searching [for a new editor],” messaged a Times insider.
There were indications in Bangalore that something was seriously amiss at the paper from Day One.
Thimaya, a well-regarded interviewer for Udaya TV of the Sun group and a noted quiz compere and emcee, was conspicuously absent from the first issue of the paper itself. There was no article or interview by him, and the only place his name appeared was in the imprintline.
In fact, Vijaya Next staffers were surprised that the paper was introduced to the “upwardly mobile Kannadiga” in a signed piece not by Thimaya, the paper’s editor, but by Visweshwar Bhat, the editor of the group’s flagship Kannada daily, Vijaya Karnataka.
Times sources in Delhi are understandably tightlipped over what went wrong as the hunt for a new editor gathers pace. Insiders at Vijaya Next in Bangalore say Thimaya was out of sorts in the new medium although this must have been blindingly obvious to Times managers who wooed and hired him.
“It’s all a big mess. They bought a Kannada paper (Usha Kirana) and turned it into ToI Kannada. They got rid of its first editor (Venkatanarayana) by bringing in Ishwar Daitota. They shut ToI Kannada down and launched Vijaya Next. They brought in Deepak Thimaya to get rid of Daitota, and now even he is gone,” said an exasperated Times insider.
The first indications of trouble came when, even before Vijaya Next was launched and with Thimaya already on board, Vijayanand Printers Limited (VPL) president Sunil Rajshekhar roped in E. Raghavan, former resident editor of The Times of India in Bangalore, in a consulting role.
Rajshekhar and Raghavan had been part of the team that launched The Times in Bangalore, although Times managers claim “old school” Raghavan had to be pushed to The Economic Times in 1996 to begin the “reforms” process at ToI that eventually enabled it to overtake market-leader, Deccan Herald.
The first three issues of Vijaya Next have come out under Raghavan’s stewardship to a tepid-to-cold market reaction. Most of the claimed circulation has come from complimentary copies slipped in with Vijaya Karnataka.
Last Saturday, Thimaya had this telling status update on his Facebook account:
Times House insiders in Delhi say the group isn’t looking at Raghavan, who retired from the Times group to serve as a consultant to arch-rival DNA in Bangalore, as a replacement for Thimaya. A number of names, including that of a theatre activist, is doing the rounds.
Sunil Rajshekhar who left Times to launch indya.com for Rupert Murdoch returned to the group to head Times Internet Limited (TIL) and was then shafted to Times Private Treaties (TPT), from where he returned to Bangalore to replace Chinnen Das as president of VPL, the BCCL subsidiary, that the group purchased in 2007.
Photograph: courtesy deepakthimaya.com
Also read: Vijaya Next gives ToI Crest a Kannada avatar
It is indeed a pity for the weekly, as to even accept the resignation of a person who had the ability of being the biggest asset to the newsletter… It is indeed a repeat of the past fiascoes by the times subsidiary in karnataka… This would really taint the image of the group… Its indeed shocking
Hope it wakes up- “JAGORE” TIMES karnataka group, learn from Tata’s ad…
All the best…
Even as the readers of Times of India group of news papers were amazed when the management stopped publication of the Kannada Times of India,the subscribers of Bangalore Mirror (also from the same group) were in for a rude shock when they received a letter that the Management was unable to service their annual subscription and sent across an accout payee cheque returning the balance subscription.
“This is to advice you of our inability to continue subscription of Bangallore Mirror in Bangalorecity. As such we regret tht would be unable to service your exising subscription of Bangalore Mirror, Bangalore Mirror on saturday and Bangalore Mirror on Sunnday , originally made for a period of 12 months under offer price of Rs 149/- beyond June 15, 2010” a letter signed by Franklyn James, Vice President of the company said.
Will the Bangalore Mirror also close down like Kannada Times of India or is it a plan to increase the subscription of Bangalore Mirror is not yet known.
Hey, there are quite a few things which we need to accept rather than eager to take sides.
Deepak’s ability as a tv personality is well known but from the day one in vijayanext he had problems which he himself invited say the corporate sources of vpl… He said in his face book that ‘journalism is not a rocket science’ but credible sources in the corporate office say that, ‘managing the content for a weekly is no less a science’ and Deepak failed miserably in that.
He professed and preached the staff about nothing rather than trying to tune the system. His bizarre thoughts only drove the staff to splits of laughter. He did a good joke of himself.
The corporate sources go further that he completely failed to grasp the market end, which the Times management time n again stressed and went care free.
In fact this is what they say prompted Mr.Raghavan’s entry. Insiders in next team say that, only Raghavan alone with a handful of journalists pulled out the issues. Sources even say, though the next team at the outset seems like having sufficient staff, in reality contradicts it. Nearly half the staff just crunch their time with least of the contribution.
In fact this was the real challenge and a print media novice like Deepak couldn’t handle it n generate the content on time to the times concept.
Any how one wonders, how a group like times can have a substantial staff that is unproductive? One also wonders, how a man who could be a perfect poster boy for a trendy weekly slips n swirls from his own act….
Deepak Thimaya who has resigned as Editor of Vijaya Next might have said that ‘journalism is not a rocket science’ must know that those who make free-wheeling interviews on TV cannot be good print media journalists and similarly those who write excellently canot be good Tv interviewers.
Their continuity in a job depends on their proficiency in the work whether it be TV or print media.
To study rocket science one must be well versed with Trignometry and Mathematics which is no ordinary subject for an ordinary student, while journalism can be picked up by those who have writing skills.
If Deepak Thimaya calls it ‘no rocket science’ let him say so. Have you given him the chance to prove his statement? And, why do you think only print journalism is journalism? His work on tv is a kind of journalism too. Most print journalists suffer from self glorification and insufferable self importance. In all this Deepak’s statement sounds like a breath of fresh air.
There is merit in the thought. Especially because the former editor reportedly ruffled Dalit feathers. Also, India has come of age. Media should take the lead and see if Dalits can spear-head a cultural, political and social renaissance.
It should start in Karnataka which is now leading in corruption. Bengaluru, the capital city has nothing to boast of except some kitsch on the walls!
Why do we hear them (dalits) only when they protest against something. Give them a voice to lead.
deepak thimmayya ,oooph! even as an interviewer he is not good. at the same time we all know what is TOI group worth for nothing . i stoped reading TOI long back even VK. and VKnext whom it is aiming at ?