As the rape charge against its editor makes headlines, the mood in the Tehelka newsroom is one of “uncertainty” about the future and “disappointment” at the way the management has handled the incident.
Reactions have been swift. Two senior editors associated with the weekly magazine have quit and there are murmurs of more resignations in days to come.
“The way the issue was handled was very disappointing. What should have been a transparent and legal issue… has ended up causing serious damage to the organization. In these circumstances, it did not feel right to continue with the magazine,” said Jay Mazoomdaar, who terminated his contract as consulting editor on Friday.
Revati Laul, an assistant editor who also put in her papers, said, “I wanted to quit the instant I came to know about the incident but waited to see how the company handled it. I was upset when the management decided that a public apology and Tarun’s stepping down would suffice and decided there was no point hanging on any further.”
There were reports that Tehelka’s literary editor Shougat Dasgupta and online editor Kunal Majumder had also stepped down. Dasgupta told HT he would neither deny nor confirm it. Majumder denied having resigned and said, “Though there is a sense of uncertainty, I believe institutions are bigger than individuals and people should be sensible to distinguish between the two.”
Other employees, on condition of anonymity, admitted that in the face of such intense focus on Tehelka, they were jittery about their futures and that of the magazine. “We keep hearing news that the police will question employees…. Many of us are hurt at the way the issue has been dealt with but not all can afford to resign,” said one.
“There is so much uncertainty... I hope it does not impact my career,” said another.
Since Monday, the Tehelka premises have turned into a media circus and with the police searching the office on Saturday, employees said they were even more nervous now.
“There is no place for us to sit, leave alone focus on work. All kinds of channel and newspaper have been thronging the office waiting for our bytes," said one worker.