Republic TV’s Journos Have Found a Spine Over Rhea Chakraborty. When Will the Channel’s Viewers?

Social Commentary

Republic TV’s Journos Have Found a Spine Over Rhea Chakraborty. When Will the Channel’s Viewers?

Illustration: Reynold Mascarenhas

Following months of debates targeting Rhea Chakraborty under the guise of seeking justice for Sushant Singh Rajput and other “outsiders” in Bollywood, Republic TV has earned itself as many new detractors as it has fans.

Among those speaking out against the channel’s media trial include prominent journalists, as well as friends and families of those involved in the Sushant Singh Rajput case, many of whom say that Republic TV and its editor-in-chief, Arnab Goswami, are responsible for the death of journalism in the country.

Now, going by Twitter updates, a number of disillusioned Republic TV journalists have also announced that they will be quitting their jobs for “ethical reasons”.

On Tuesday, hours after actor Rhea Chakraborty was arrested for “running a drug syndicate” by the Narcotics Control Bureau, the resignation of one of the channel’s journalists, Shantasree Sarkar, went viral on Twitter.

One of the main reasons Sarkar cited for leaving her job included the coverage of Sushant Singh Rajput’s death, which she said was tailored to a particular agenda, and left out key details in the case. The journalist said she was one of those punished for not bringing out biased stories, which in some cases involved her working 72 hours straight.

Earlier this week, another senior journalist at the channel, Tejinder Singh Sodhi, had tendered his resignation. His lengthy email to the company’s vice-president was subsequently published on the website, Medium.

Apart from alleging that Arnab Goswami and his wife Samyabrata Ray Goswami ran the organisation with an iron fist, Sodhi also went on to detail reasons why he believed the channel had reduced journalism to a joke, as well as his former boss’s obsession with being number one in every regard.

Sodhi also spoke of many colleagues who had apparently been abused and bullied to carry out hit jobs against politicians and public figures. A Newslaundry article has quoted a number of former employees making similar allegations.

There has been some encouragement on Twitter for the Republic TV journalists who have quit, or are planning to, with some social media users even offering to pay their EMIs for a few months until they find other work.

On the other hand, a few felt that the journalists deserve no sympathy for quitting after the channel’s most recent witch hunt, and should have spoken out much earlier.

Going by the most recent BARC reports, however, Republic TV seems to have achieved what it set out to do — grab eyeballs — with both its Hindi and English versions being the most watched channels in the country. So even as journalists continue to leave the organisation, it seems as though the channel’s viewers are there to stay.