Many of you may have seen the twitter ‘spat’ between yours truly and the Zee News editor, Sudhir Chaudhry.
Sudhir, in his tweet, made an extraordinary allegation that I was ‘dying to join Zee News’ at one point of time adding that he had ‘interviewed’ me twice before I was ‘rejected.’
This, according to him, prompted me to approach the Group CEO to ‘put pressure’ on him.
Although, I have tweeted attempting to expose his lies, it’s important for people to know the whole truth.
As I said in my tweet, I didn’t expect Sudhir to display honesty. Although if he did so, he would enjoy the reputation worth shouting home about.
He asked me if I would consider better options (both in terms of designation and pay package) in Zee. My instant reply was ‘no’ as I was barely a few months old in my role as Managing Editor-input for India Today’s four TV channels( Headlines Today now India Today TV, Aaj Tak, Dilli Aajtak and Tez.)
I felt it was improper to quit my job so soon given the task of integrating the newsroom and synergy I was entrusted with.
And our conversation ended there until I got a call from the same gentleman again after few days. This time, I promised to get back to him after having considered the proposition for few days.
Truth be told, I forgot to return Amit’s call. So he called me back.
He said, “Sir, Please at least meet our group HR head Geetanjali Pandit and the CEO. Just meet them once.”
So I agreed, even though I was mindful that this meeting may become a subject of public gossip as the Film City, where all the media houses are based, is a very small world.
I met Geetanjali at a coffee shop, and was surprised to see Sudhir tag along with her.
We chatted informally albeit very briefly as I had to rush to office because of a plane crash in Malaysia and I was in the midst of sorting out the travel plans for one of my reporters.
In that meeting, Geetanjali said that she would be keen to know more about my past works asking if I could send my CV to her. I suggested that she can check out my job history on Linkedin.
This was a sign of someone ‘dying’ to work for Zee News.
Soon, she sent me a connection request on Linkedin but asked me to update my profile as it didn’t have the detail on my last BBC role as International Coordinating Editor.
I obliged but it took some time as the period coincided with the birth of my daughter. I sent her an apology promising to update the page soon. This was in response to her message saying she was keen to take the matter forward.
The role being suggested to me was along the same lines as that of India Today’s but involving Zee Group’s 11 channels.
On Geetanjali’s request I met her and the Zee CEO, Alok Agrawal at Radisson Blue in Noida sometime in March. Sudhir was nowhere in the picture as I already had expressed my reservation about his credibility.
Both the HR Head and the CEO decided to take the conversation forward. But, then I didn’t hear from them for a long time. A week after that conversation, I also left India Today.
They didn’t respond to my communication, which I had made saying they hiring me before the Lok Sabha election would add value to their editorial and significant improvement in the channel’s audience reach.
Meanwhile, I was being contacted by several heads of TV channels and owners of newspapers (both Hindi and English) during that time. So I also needed clarity from Geetanjali and Alok. A month later, I came across rumours that both Alok and Geetanjali had resigned.
So I wrote to the Group CEO, Bhaskar Das, who I was put in touch with even before I had met Alok by a Member of Parliament friend.
I wrote to Das asking for an update on my conversation with Alok and Geetanjali.
In the end I didn’t join Zee and in hindsight had made one of the best decisions related to my career. Might I also want to add that I didn’t have much knowledge about Zee’s overall credibility (since i was just back to India after having worked with the BBC for 12 years).
So, Sudhir is only giving himself importance by lying that he ‘interviewed me’ and I was ‘rejected’ and I put pressure on ‘him’ through the Group CEO of ZEE Media.
Even though my criticism for the appalling journalism that Zee stands for is not a secret anymore, I’ve never indulged in personal jibes against Sudhir or any members of Zee staff.
There have been countless occasions when people tagged me while addressing him with terminologies such as Tihari and extortionist. But, not once did I allow myself to be part of that conversation.
That’s because my disagreement on Zee’s editorial doesn’t allow me to denigrate a human being, who up until now I considered a person from the same fraternity.
I have no right to cast aspersion at anyone using a mistake he or she may have committed in the past. And that’s my morality.
The lies Sudhir chose to indulge in today is indicative of his morality.
I know where this sudden outburst has come from. It was jantakareporter.com, which had first carried the resignation letter of Vishwa Deepak- a piece of editorial that simply went viral dominating the editorias of other media houses too.
But, we had decided to carry that piece not because we had any hatred for Zee. It was an excellently written piece and chimed well with our endeavous to highlight the shortcomings in the media. It was never to suggest Vishwa Deepak’s words were the gospel truth. Hence, our decision to carry that as a blog and not a report.
When we received the counterpoint from the ZEE, we publicised it without any editing. We did so not once but on multiple occasions. This despite the fact that last year Zee had provided a platform to a dirty campaign against jantakareporter.com without allowing my full clarification to be aired.
In short, all I can say is that I will shut down JKR if Sudhir or his cronies can prove we’ve ever been funded by Aam Aadmi Party. I challenge him to do the same but I’m also aware that shutting down Zee is well beyond his pay scale even if the channel’s links with the BJP or saffron brigade is established.
But he can at least apologise to the likes of Sonu Nigam, Kumar Vishwas, Naveen Jindal and more recently Kanhaiya Kumar and JKR, who he has allegedly been responsible for running a dirty campaign against.