What’s Going On at Zee News? Did Sudhir Chaudhary & Co Make Covid +ve Employees Work?


What’s Going On at Zee News? Did Sudhir Chaudhary & Co Make Covid +ve Employees Work?

Illustration: Robin Chakraborty

Media is considered essential service, which means many journalists and editors have not had the luxury to work from home during the pandemic. In April, 26 employees of a Tamil News Channel and 53 journalists from Mumbai tested positive for coronavirus. And now as we enter Lockdown 4.0, 28 employees of Zee News have contacted the virus, Editor-in-Chief Sudhir Chaudhary said on Monday. “Fortunately, most of them are asymptomatic and not complaining of any discomfort. We believe this is because of early diagnostics and proactive intervention,” he tweeted.

Zee News said all guidelines and protocols have been followed, and its office, newsroom and studios have been sealed for sanitisation. The team has been shifted to an alternative facility.

But a Sudhir Chaudhary story does not come without controversy. In yet another shocking tweet, he revealed,  “Those who are infected had the option of home and sharing memes. They came to work because they are committed professionals.” Of course, this triggered a social media storm.

Twitter users lashed out at Chaudhary, saying that those infected should actually be sharing memes from home instead of risking their lives as well as those around them.

Police action has also been demanded since asking infected employees to travel to work is a blatant violation. Some say that the top management should be booked under the Disaster Management Act.

Many took Zee News to task, calling it a “super spreader” and using hashtags like #ZeeMat, #TabliZeeJamaat and #CoronaZeehad, alluding to the toxic and derogatory language used by Chaudhary when covering incidents related to the Tablighi Jamaat congregation.

Zee News is said to have ignored every rule in the book, from threatening employees, asking them not to complain of fever, and insisting that they come to work. For a media organisation, whose task is to disseminate information, they brazenly seem to have been flouting rules.

After the avalanche of criticism that was directed toward Chaudhary, he alleged that a malicious campaign was being run against the channel and his statement was being distorted. He started a hashtag #ZeeWarriors and claimed that no infected person had come to work.

“All actions taken by Zee News after the first case came to light are a matter of record and can be verified. My tweet refers to all media persons who have the option of staying at home but come to work despite the risk. To deliberately misinterpret this is unfortunate & vile,” he claimed.

Let’s hope Sudhir Chaudhary watches a bit more of his own channel from two weeks ago, where he was sermonising how to behave during the pandemic.