“I had never in my wildest dream thought that instead of following a story, my story as a reporter in the magazine I work for, would be made such a spectacle and followed 24x7. There is so much uncertainty in the organization …. I hope it does not impact my career” – a journalist working at Tehelka.
While the outrage over the alleged sexual assault of a staff reporter by Tehelka founder Tarun Tejpal continues to make headlines, the mood inside the magazine newsroom is one of “uncertainty” about the future and “general disappointment” at the way the management has handled the incident.
The reactions have been swift. Two senior editors associated with Tehelka have resigned and there are murmurs that more would follow in the coming days.
“The way the issue was handled is very disappointing. What should have been a transparent and legal issue between an editor and a reporter has ended up causing serious damage to the organization and its credibility. In the circumstances, it did not feel right to continue with the magazine,” said Jay Mazoomdaar, who terminated his contract as a consulting editor with Tehelka 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 so decided there was no point of hanging on any further.”
Though there were reports that the magazine’s literary editor Shougat Dasgupta and online editor Kunal Majumder have also stepped down but both of them denied having stepped down. Dasgupta told HT he will neither deny nor confirm the news.
Staffers, on condition of anonymity, admit that with the entire nation’s glare now focused on Tehelka, they have become jittery about the magazine and their own future. “We keep hearing news that the police will question the employees…there is so much uncertainty. Many of us are hurt at the way the issue has been dealt with but not all can afford to resign,” said a reporter.
Since Monday, with hordes of media channel flocking the Tehelka office in Greater Kailash Part II, work has come to a standstill. “There is no place for us to sit, leave alone focus on work. All kind of channel and newspaper have been thronging the office waiting to get our bytes,” said another staffer.
Kunal Majumder, online editor at Tehelka who also denied having resigned said, “Though there is a sense of uncertainty but I believe institutions are bigger than individuals and people should be sensible to distinguish between the two.”
Another reporter who did not want to be named added, “With Tarun gone and the managing editor busy handling the crisis there is no one in the top management who we can talk to find out what happens next.”
Journalists at Tehelka, however, said that the police are yet to get in touch with any of them to inquire about the incident.